Latino immigrants' perceptions of crime and police authorities in the United States: A case study from the Phoenix Metropolitan area

Cecilia Menjívar, Cynthia L. Bejarano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

166 Scopus citations

Abstract

Many studies that link immigration and crime focus on assessing rates and explaining incidence. In this article we attempt to elucidate the immigrants' fear of crime and their perceptions of U.S. authorities as these impinge on their relations with the police and on their own insertion in the host society. Based on sixty-one in-depth interviews with immigrants from Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico and on participant observation conducted in Phoenix, Arizona, we identify three immigrant-specific factors that affect immigrants' perceptions of crime and the police. These are: a bifocal lens, that is, the immigrants' former experiences with crime and their homelands' justice system; contacts with U.S. immigration officials; and the social networks through which they learn what to expect in the United States from U.S. police authorities, as well as when and where to expect criminal activity, and who may be a potential criminal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-148
Number of pages29
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2004

Keywords

  • Crime
  • Immigrants
  • Immigration
  • Latinos
  • Law enforcement
  • Phoenix

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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