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Latinos in Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, and Phoenix in Comparative Perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 July 2018

Cecilia Menjívar*
Department of Sociology, and Center for Migration Research, University of Kansas
William Paul Simmons
Gender & Women’s Studies, and Online Graduate Programs in Human Rights Practice, University of Arizona
Daniel Alvord
Department of Sociology, and Center for Migration Research, University of Kansas
Elizabeth Salerno Valdez
Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona
*Corresponding author: Cecilia Menjívar, Department of Sociology, University of Kansas, 716 Fraser Hall, Lawrence, KS 66045. E-mail:


The immigration enforcement system today affects different subgroups of Latinos; it reaches beyond the undocumented to immigrants who hold legal statuses and even to the U.S.-born. States have enacted their own enforcement collaboration agreements with federal authorities and thus Latinos may have dissimilar experiences based on where they live. This article examines the effects of enforcement schemes on Latinos’ likelihood of reporting crimes to police and views of law enforcement. It includes documented and U.S-born Latinos to capture the spillover beyond the undocumented, and it is based on four metropolitan areas—Los Angeles, Houston, Phoenix, and Chicago—to comparatively assess the effects of various enforcement contexts. Empirically, it relies on data from a random sample survey of over 2000 Latinos conducted in 2012 in these four cities. Results show that spillover effects vary by context and legal/citizenship status: Latino immigrants with legal status are less inclined to report to the police as compared to U.S.-born Latinos in Houston, Los Angeles, and Phoenix but not in Chicago. At the other end, the spillover effect in Phoenix is so strong that it almost reaches to U.S.-born Latinos. The spillover effect identified is possible due to the close association between being Latino or Mexican and being undocumented, underscoring the racialization of legal status and of immigration enforcement today.

Policies, Politics, and the Plight of Race and Ethnic Groups
Copyright © Hutchins Center for African and African American Research 2018 

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