'Bad Hombres': The Effects of Criminalizing Latino Immigrants through Law and Media in the Rural Midwest
Keywords:immigration policy, Latino/a, Executive Orders, Kansas, Midwest, criminalization, rural communities, media, stereotypes
In this article we explore the policy and legal build-up that led to the 2017 Executive Orders targeting Latino/a immigrant families and communities. We provide a historical backdrop for the merging of criminal and immigration laws that has contributed to the criminalization of the behaviors, bodies, and communities of Latino/a immigrants. We then look at the media narratives that burry immigrants’ complex identities and reproduce daily the demonization of Latino/as as criminals. Together, these factors contribute to socially construct a “Brown Threat” which reproduces anxieties and fears about crime, terror, and threats to the nation, affecting the everyday lives of immigrants and non-immigrants alike, though in different ways. Based on an 18-month ethnography in a small Kansas town carried out before and after the signing of Executive Orders in 2017, we examine the spill-over effects of this environment on Guatemalan immigrant families as well as on non-immigrant Anglo-white residents in a rural community.