Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 319–337 | Cite as

Ironies of social control and the criminalization of immigrants

  • Michael Welch


As moral panic over immigrants spreadduring the early 1990s, immigrationpolicies became increasingly criminalized in the wake of the bombingsof the World Trade Center in 1993 and ofthe Murrah Federal Building in OklahomaCity in 1995. In response to the threat ofterrorism at home, Congress enacted theIllegal Immigration Reform andImmigration Responsibility Act along withthe Anti-Terrorism and Effective DeathPenalty Act in 1996. Since then severalkey provisions of those statutes haveproduced numerous violations of civilliberties and immigrants' rights. Drawingon a conceptual framework developed bysociologist Gary T. Marx (1981), thisarticle examines critically thecontradictions and ironies of immigrationcontrol, specifically the mostcontroversial aspects of the 1996 laws:court-stripping provisions, use of secretevidence, and growing register ofdeportable crimes. In light of theterrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001,the article expresses concerns over thegovernment's current campaign to fightterrorism, especially the use of racialprofiling and mass detention shrouded insecrecy.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Welch
    • 1
  1. 1.Criminal JusticeRutgers University, New BrunswickHobokenUSA

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