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'Bad Hombres': The Effects of Criminalizing Latino Immigrants through Law and Media in the Rural Midwest


  • Andrea Gomez Cervantes

    (University of Kansas, United States)

  • Daniel Alvord

    (University of Kansas, United States)

  • Cecilia Menjívar

    (University of Kansas, United States)


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Gomez Cervantes & Daniel Alvord & Cecilia Menjívar, 2018. "'Bad Hombres': The Effects of Criminalizing Latino Immigrants through Law and Media in the Rural Midwest," Migration Letters, Transnational Press London, UK, vol. 15(2), pages 182-196, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:mig:journl:v:15:y:2018:i:2:p:182-196

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