Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical & Philosophical Criminology

Economic Nomads: A Theoretical Deconstruction of the Immigration Debacle

Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical & Philosophical Criminology

Economic Nomads: A Theoretical Deconstruction of the Immigration Debacle

Article excerpt

Economic nomads: A theoretical deconstruction of the immigration debacle

Currently, the United States of America is host to an estimated 10-12 million unauthorized immigrants (Tichenor, 2008). Nongovernmental sources suggest that this number is actually larger given that efforts to accurately measure the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. are flawed and can only provide an approximation (Nadadur, 2009). Additionally, Hispanics have surpassed African Americans as the largest minority population in the U.S. (Buckler, Unnever, & Cullen, 2008). In recent years, the U.S. has militarized its borders, enacted restrictive immigration policies, and some locales in the American Southwest have passed legislation guaranteeing severe penalties for illegal immigrants.

The hysteria surrounding the immigration issue has been enhanced by myths circulated by the media and politicians. Among these are the myths that illegal immigrants do not pay taxes, are highly involved in crime, and are a drain on social services (Tichenor, 2008). On the contrary, 2002 Census Bureau data revealed that in that year roughly 3.8 households headed by illegal immigrants produced $6.4 billion in Social Security taxes (Wilson, 2009). Furthermore, in 2006, the Immigration Policy Center reported that if the 1.4 million undocumented immigrants were not in Texas, the state would have lost $17.7 billion in state revenues (2007, p. 3). Moreover, nativist fear-mongering neglects to point out that undocumented immigrants pay not only payroll and income tax but also sales, excise, and property taxes (Wilson, 2009). In fact, 90% of wages earned by illegal immigrants are spent in the U.S. (Nadadur, 2009). When it comes to whether illegal immigrants take advantage of public services, a 2000 Health Affairs study found that illegal immigrants are far less likely to use any health-care service for fear of being discovered and deported (Berk, Schur, Chavez, & Frankel, 2000). In regard to crime, media reports grossly misrepresent the criminality of undocumented immigrants. For instance, less than 6% of prisoners are foreign-born and only a small fraction of that group is in the U.S. illegally (Golash-Boza, 2009). Perhaps more intriguing are the practices of Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County, Arizona. Arpaio has used state laws to require any victim or witness reporting a crime to prove their immigration status (Golash-Boza, 2009). As a result illegal immigrants rarely, if ever, report crimes; therefore, their victimizations go uninvestigated by Arizona law enforcement.

Regardless of the fact that these popular myths surrounding illegal immigration have been debunked by scholarly studies, restrictive immigration policies still remain and new laws are still being drafted. With the upcoming 2016 presidential election, some politicians have once again unearthed these erroneous myths to cultivate nationalistic pride, bigoted fear, and ethnocentric rhetoric for political gain. Concerns for racial profiling, hate crimes, and violations of Fourteenth Amendment rights have brought the larger immigration debate to the forefront. In order to understand the current dilemma over illegal immigration, one cannot rely merely on a single theory. Instead, an interdisciplinary and integrative approach is required so a more complete portrait of the immigration issue can be painted.1 This article endeavors to undertake such a provisional task in hopes of situating the debate over illegal immigration within a more comprehensive theoretical framework that both de/reconstructs the various spheres of constitutive influence that form, reform and discursively reify this debacle.

Theoretical Approach

Hyper-vigilant responses to illegal immigration are rooted in a number of socio-cultural forces or spheres of influence that condition, and thus control, the structuration (Giddens, 1984) of the social person (i.e., self/society mutuality). In order to examine the harm that follows from excessive investments in such structurations, the theoretical concepts that give meaning to this debilitating condition of control necessitate de/reconstruction. …

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