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Bill Ong Hing: Institutional Racism, ICE Raids, and Immigration Reform

January 19, 2010

Bill O. Hing

Professor Bill Ong Hing writes for University of San Fransisco Law Review:

Abstract:   This Article argues that the structure of immigration laws has institutionalized a set of values that dehumanize, demonize, and criminalize immigrants of color. The result is that these victims stop being Mexicans, Latinos, or Chinese and become “illegal immigrants.” We are aware of their race or ethnicity, but we believe we are acting against them because of their status, not because of their race. This institutionalized racism made the Bush ICE raids natural and acceptable in the minds of the general public. Institutionalized racism allows the public to think ICE raids are freeing up jobs for native workers without recognizing the racial ramifications. Objections to ICE raids and the Border Patrol’s Operation Gatekeeper are debated in non-racial terms. However, not viewing these operations from an institutionalized racial perspective inhibits the total revamping of our immigration system that needs to take place. Part I begins with a description of selected ICE raids. Part II follows with a discussion of the institutional racism that is grounded in the history of U.S. immigration laws and policies. Part III explains how the racial history of immigration policy has become institutionalized so that seemingly neutral policies actually have racial effects. Understanding the historical underpinnings of race-driven immigration policy offers a broader range of solutions to current policy and enforcement challenges. Recognizing the racist nature of the system allows for a framework to remedy a racist system. [Download the article here.]

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