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The Forsaken 'Out-Laws': Crime and Justice among Undocumented Migrant Workers in Palisades Park, New Jersey

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2010, $99,843)

This research study seeks to examine the convergence of social exclusion, legal marginalization, crime, and violence on undocumented migrant workers. The administration of justice among undocumented immigrants is a daunting challenge created by the ever strengthening process of globalization, which has outpaced the ability of the federal government to devise comprehensive, effective, and politically palatable responses to the continuous inflows of illegal or undocumented immigrants. As the legal construction of illegality consigns these immigrants to the peripheries of the post-industrial economy, racial "otherness" and politico-legal depersonalization are mutually constituted in this precarious and vulnerable population of non-citizens in the constant struggle between external exploitation and internal implosion. The inquiry will follow the research approach exemplified by W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963) and adopts a poly-methodological solution to investigate the origins, structures, and consequences of justice and injustice in human affairs. The purpose of this study is to explore the issue of crime and justice among undocumented migrant workers (UMW). Four specific goals are set up for this purpose: 1) to describe the prevalence and patterns of crime victimization among UMWs; 2)to identify means adopted by UMWs to identify offenders, to prevent future victimizations, and to dispense justice; 3)to examine whether and how UMWs are fairly and justly treated by local enforcement agents; and 4) to reflect on how the police-UMWs relationship could influence the broader police-community relationships and the quality of justice administration. In order to achieve these goals, four objectives will be accomplished: a) structured survey will be administered to 160 UMWs in Palisades Park, NJ; b) 32 UMWs from the same target population will be recruited for in-depth focus group interviews; c) 12 key informants will be selected from local police, activist groups, contractors who employ UMWs; and clergy closely related to UMWs and other members of the community to collect field data on social interactions. Findings from these research activities will shed light on the safety needs of this hard-to-reach population as well as potential policy options available to local governments to manage the wellbeing of their communities. ca/ncf

Date Created: September 13, 2010