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.
- Law enforcement
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Sociology and Political Science