Panel Paper: Abuses and Discrimination Against Mexican Immigrants: An Empirical Assessment of the Obama and Trump Administrations

Saturday, April 13, 2019
Continuing Education Building - Room 2050 (University of California, Irvine)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Gustavo Lopez and David FitzGerald, University of California, San Diego

This paper analyzes the civil and human rights of Mexican immigrants living in the U.S. during the Obama and Trump administrations. It zeroes in on sanctuary policies, enforcement and admission policies, and their negative effects on this population. This study based on the Survey of Migration at Mexico’s Northern Border (EMIF Norte) and hate crime statistics collected by the FBI and California’s Department of Justice finds that their situation has worsened in the first year of the Trump administration. Mexican migrants’ reports of abuse during deportation increased sharply during the first year of the Trump administration, from 15% of detainees in 2016 to 22% in 2017. State-sponsored hate speech has worsened the hostile environment faced by Latino immigrants and other targeted groups. EMIF Norte data show that between 2016 and 2017, voluntary returnees to Mexico reported experiencing increased verbal abuse, physical assault, and threats to be reported to ICE. Deportees reported sharp increases in abuse and discrimination at the beginning of the Trump administration. Even California, which at the level of statewide politics and policies has become a more welcoming state for Mexican immigrants in the 2000s and 2010s, experienced a 52% increase in hate crimes directed against Latinos between 2016 and 2017. The initial evidence suggests that the civil rights threats to Mexican immigrants in the United States, and their experiences of social hostility, worsened after the 2016 presidential election.