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Police and immigration enforcement: Impacts on Latino(a) residents' perceptions of police

Guadalupe Vidales (Department of Criminology, University of Wisconsin, Parkside, Wisconsin, USA)
Kristen M. Day (Department of Planning, Policy, and Design, University of California – Irvine, Irvine, California, USA)
Michael Powe (Department of Planning, Policy, and Design, University of California – Irvine, Irvine, California, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 6 November 2009

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Abstract

Purpose

Recent years have witnessed a national policy shift towards involving state and local police in enforcing US federal immigration laws. Critics argue that involving local police in enforcing immigration law will decrease Latino(a) and immigrant residents' willingness to report crime and their cooperation with the police, and will also increase racial profiling and negatively impact documented and undocumented residents. This paper aims to examine Latino(a) residents' perceptions of the police before and after an extended local controversy about involving police in enforcing immigration laws in Costa Mesa, California.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper reports findings of a before‐and‐after study in the Westside area of the City of Costa Mesa, California. Methods include Spanish and English language telephone surveys of Latino(a) and non‐Latino(a) residents in the Westside (n=169 respondents before and n=91 respondents after), conducted in 2002 and in 2007.

Findings

In survey responses, Latino(a) residents report that they are more likely to be stopped by the police in 2007 compared to 2002. Latino(a) respondents also have more negative perceptions of the police, find the police less helpful, feel less accepted in the community, and say that they are less likely to report crimes after the controversy, compared to before.

Originality/value

The findings show the importance of policies that encourage cooperation with and trust of the police. These results can help inform cities about the potential impacts of involving local police in immigration enforcement.

Keywords

Citation

Vidales, G., Day, K.M. and Powe, M. (2009), "Police and immigration enforcement: Impacts on Latino(a) residents' perceptions of police", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 32 No. 4, pp. 631-653. https://doi.org/10.1108/13639510911000740

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited