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Mexican immigrants have been the target of nativist and racist rhetoric that has painted them alternately as economic threats because of the cheap labor they provide, cultural threats because of a belief that Latino communities in the United States do not assimilate in the same fashion or with the same speed as other immigrant groups, and a suspicion that undocumented immigrants are predisposed to criminality because of how they came to the United States.

This latter claim, that Mexican immigrants are likely to be criminals, has been used to justify some of the most restrictive immigration policies and has been a central theme of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on immigration. He has characterized Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists and continues to support the idea of a border wall to keep them out, despite the wealth of data that contradicts this narrative.

In this talk, Ben Gonzalez O’Brien examines the historical roots of the criminalization of undocumented immigration, explores the modern rhetoric of criminality, and assesses the claims made by individuals like Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and Trump that the undocumented are inclined to criminality.

Presenter: Ben Gonzalez O’Brien, Faculty, Political Science

Location: Building 3, Room 102