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Crimmigration: A complex intersection of law

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2024 | Crimmigration

“Crimmigration” is a term that refers to the intersection of criminal defense and immigration law. It’s a concept that has become more relevant in recent years, particularly in the United States, but also is trending in Western Europe and Australia. These changes have led to alarming consequences of migrant criminalization—border violence, exclusion, punishment, inequality, xenophobia and a widespread assault on the rights and dignity of migrants.

The term Criminmigration was coined during the 1980s, and it essentially describes practices that were common in enforcing criminal law. These practices started appearing in the immigration law context and vice versa. In the past, criminal cases were handled by defense attorneys, local or state prosecutors and judges, while immigration cases were considered civil matters that went through the immigration court system.

The Evolution of Crimmigration

However, this distinction has become a historical relic. Today, non-citizens often face criminal charges that lead to removal and/or deportation proceedings. Even if a person can avoid deportation, the offender now has a criminal record.

Crimmigration also has a racial factor. It is not happenstance that immigration law became more criminalized as the U.S. closed off many ways for Latin Americans to legally immigrate. The government, according to some scholars, is using its limited immigration resources to target people from Latin and Central America, treating them as criminals to be forcibly evicted using ICE while ignoring citizens from Europe and some other parts of the world unless they are guilty of criminal activity unrelated to their immigration law violation.

Fighting against Crimmigration

Crimmigration is a complex issue that reflects changes in society and government policy. Fortunately, there are politicians working to address the problem in a broader sense. There are also attorneys working to help those punished by this movement, many of whom simply moved somewhere safer that offered more economic opportunities.