Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Justice Studies

First Advisor

Judah Schept

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Second Advisor

Kishonna L. Gray

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Third Advisor

Gary W. Potter

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies


Historically, Americans have been concerned with immigration, with a particular emphasis on Mexican immigration arising toward the end of the twentieth century. The purpose of this research is to question the framing of current immigration patterns as crises and argue that they are better understood as ‘business as usual’ in the neoliberal state. This paper highlights the connection between neoliberal policies and negative public perceptions of immigrants. Neoliberal policies disenfranchise citizens and immigrants alike, yet the public’s misinterpretation of both economic and immigration issues allows society to blame immigrants for deeply structured social problems. I have outlined the neoliberal economic system’s need for flexible labor and how this system is served by the public’s propensity to exclude immigrants from mainstream society while also drawing attention to the history of immigration policy, the social construction of the Mexican immigrant, and the role of the growing carceral state in managing surplus immigrant bodies. This consideration of the relationship between political economy and immigration, along with an understanding of the history of immigration law in the United States, suggests we should consider divorcing immigration from crisis in our analyses of United States immigration policy and practice.