Racial profiling and immigration law enforcement: Rounding up of usual suspects in the Latino community

Mary Romero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

171 Scopus citations


Critical race theorists have applied the concepts of micro-aggressions and macro-aggressions to characterize the racial affronts minorities encounter in the criminal justice system, particularly in the War on Drugs and in the use of racial profiling. Building on LatCrit and critical race scholars, I analyze the function that immigration raids serve as a policing practice that maintains and reinforces subordinated status among working-class Latino citizens and immigrations. Using a case study approach, I analyze a five day immigration raid in 1997. locally referred to as the "Chandler Roundup." Immigration policing constructed citizenship as visibly inscribed on bodies in specific urban spaces rather than "probable cause." The Chandler Roundup fits into a larger pattern of immigration law enforcement practices that produce harms of reduction and repression and place Mexican Americans at risk before the law and designate them as second-class citizens with inferior rights. Latino residents experienced racial affronts targeted at their "Mexicanness" indicated by skin-color, bilingual speaking abilities, or shopping in neighborhoods highly populated by Latinos. During immigration inspections, individuals stopped were demeaned, humiliated and embarrassed. Stops and searches conducted without cause were intimidating and frightening, particularly when conducted with the discretionary use of power and force by law enforcement agents. In urban barrios, the costly enterprise of selected stops and searches, race-related police abuse, and harassment results in deterring political participation, identifying urban space racially, classifying immigrants as deserving and underserving by nationalities, and serves to drive a wedge dividing Latino neighborhoods on the basis of citizenship status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-473
Number of pages27
JournalCritical Sociology
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Critical race theory
  • Immigration
  • Latinos
  • Law enforcement
  • Racism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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