Surveillance without Protection

Sung, Hung-En, Sheyla Delgado, D. Peña and A. Paladino (2015). Surveillance without Protection: Policing Undocumented Migrant Workers in an American Suburb. British Journal of Criminology. doi: 10.1093/bjc/azv086. First published online: September 2, 2015

Policing anonymous and fearful undocumented migrant workers (UMWs) with equity, integrity and accountability is one of the toughest law enforcement challenges in the United States. The importance of the issue notwithstanding, police–UMW interactions remain a ‘black box’ in police research. We examined the political economy of Palisades Park, New Jersey, and interviewed 160 UMWs from the same town. Findings indicate that UMWs suffered from a high level of crime victimization but were extremely unlikely to report their victimizations. Yet they were eager to contact the police to seek information and assistance in non-legal contexts. Police closely monitored UMWs through frequent encounters without provoking widespread resentment. Contradictions in both national immigration control and local politics are offered to interpret police–migrant relations.