The Criminalization of Immigration: The Post 9/11 Moral Panic

The Criminalization of Immigration: The Post 9/11 Moral Panic

The Criminalization of Immigration: The Post 9/11 Moral Panic

The Criminalization of Immigration: The Post 9/11 Moral Panic

Synopsis

After the September 11th attacks the United States government sought a response to terrorism. The ensuing "war on terror" brought sweeping new federal regulations and changes in immigration policy. Consequent changes in society's reaction to immigration and the degree to which immigrants have become criminalized are apparent. Hauptman reveals the effects of a moral panic toward immigration after 9/11, explaining social control initiatives like the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, as a direct result of the concern over immigrants in the United States. Hauptman concludes that the response to the attacks resulted in the criminalization of immigrants in post-September 11th society.

Excerpt

While the study of terrorism had previously been neglected by sociologists (Deflem 2004a; Turk 2004), since the attacks on September 11 2001, the “war on terror” has increased the public’s awareness of the potential for foreign threats against American society (Bonn 2011; Engel 2004; Haque 2003; Kettl 2004; Klinger and Grossman 2002; McKenzie 2004; Rothe & Muzzatti 2004; Saux 2007; Scheuerman 2002; Wanta, Golan, & Lee 2004; Welch 2006a). The United States “war on terror” was initiated on September 20, 2001, when President George W. Bush described a “new kind of war… [that has] raised new issues for how to treat those involved in… as well as those associated with the war on the United States” (Kettl 2004: 98). A new kind of war with the U.S. refers to the long-term threat of terrorism that had thus become one of the Bush Administration’s primary focal point, and has continued to capture the public’s attention, with issues of national security and immigration as the leading concerns.

As the federal response to terrorism was being formulated, the unprecedented breadth and magnitude of the government’s decree also began to materialize. The need for an appropriate response to the terrorist acts against the U.S. was not only evident but also considered essential to preserve the security of the country. In fact, “the extraordinary threat of modern terrorism has been mirrored by extraordinary counter measures” (Turk 2004: 281; Ackerman 2004), which are directly revealed . . .

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