Between Public Service and Social Control: Policing Dilemmas in the Era of Immigration Enforcement

Source: Amada Armenta, Social Problems, Volume 63, Issue 1, 1 February 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
While research provides numerous insights about the fear and insecurity that Latino immigrants experience at the hands of the police, much less is known about the experiences and practices of local police vis-à-vis Latino immigrant residents. This article contributes to research on street-level bureaucracies and immigrant incorporation by examining police practices in a new immigrant destination. Drawing on two years of fieldwork with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, it offers an extended ethnographic look at policing dilemmas in the era of immigration control. As the findings reveal, police bureaucracies respond to immigrant residents in contradictory ways. On one hand, the department has an official community policing program to increase trust and communication with Latino immigrant residents. On the other hand, street-level patrol officers undermine these efforts by citing and arresting Latino residents who lack state-issued ID. Thus, alongside ostensibly sincere efforts to incorporate immigrant residents, ultimately, police produce a form of social control and urban discipline through their discretionary decisions.