The Deportation Threat Dynamic and Victimization of Latino Migrants: Wage Theft and Robbery

Elizabeth Fussell, Brown University
Publication Date:
Jan 2011
Project Programs:

Deportations have been increasing since the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, although the number of unauthorized migrants working in the United States has increased as well. These conditions enable the deportation threat dynamic, a social mechanism which plays out between unauthorized Latino migrants and those who seek to take advantage of them and exposes the migrants to the risk of wage theft and robbery. I use mixed methods to identify and describe this social mechanism and its consequences as it operated in New Orleans, Louisiana in 2007 to 2008 after Hurricane Katrina generated a construction boom. I find that Latino migrants who sought work as day laborers were more likely to experience wage theft but were equally likely to experience criminal victimization. These crimes occur because Latino migrants were visually identifiable by unscrupulous employers and criminals who assumed they were unauthorized and therefore felt confident that the migrants would not report them to law enforcement authorities.


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