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Publisher: Journals Gateway
Daedalus (2021) 150 (2): 91–105.
Published: 04 January 2021
AbstractView article PDF
This essay examines the intertwined nature of seemingly neutral immigration laws that illegalize certain immigrant groups and the socially constructed attitudes and stereotypes that associate the same legally targeted groups with “illegality,” to produce the racialization of illegality. These complementary factors are further sustained by other social forces, including media discourses that reify those associations. The racialization of illegality is a fundamentally situational, relational, dynamic, and historically and context-specific process. Today, Latino groups are the preeminent target group of both the social and the legal production of illegality. Thus, this essay examines Latinos' racialized illegality across geographical contexts, within their group, and in relation to other contemporary immigrants. Although expressions of racialized illegality and specific targeted groups will vary across time and space, the contours of the phenomenon will be present across contexts and times (and produce specific outcomes) because they are shaped by existing racial hierarchies.