Short on time?

Get essay writing help

Unjust Criminalization of Mexican Immigrants

  • Words: 1568
  • |
  • Pages: 3
  • This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples.

Drop in opium prices cause poor poppy farmers in Mexico to migrate to the U.S., raising tensions between Mexico and the Trump administration. President Trump uses the stereotype of Mexicans being criminals, violent individuals and drug syndicates to further his anti-immigrant campaign. However, studies prove these stereotypes are false. There are better ways to solve issues surrounding illegal immigration and drug trafficking without unjustly criminalizing immigrants.

A woman with her child on her back scratches poppy pods to extract opium crude in Xalpatlahuac, Mexico, on November 16th 2020. (Rodrigo Cruz) In the mountainous region of southwest Mexico, many poor farmers are forced to farm poppy to earn a living due to socioeconomic factors. Recently, there has been a drop in opium latex prices due to several factors. The two main factors are the drop in demand for illegal drugs in the U.S., and the emergence of fentanyl, a highly addictive synthetic opiate. As a result, the profit gained by the poppy farmers decreased dramatically. They no longer have the means to afford necessities and feed their families. In search of better livelihoods, they migrate north into the U.S., causing a crisis along the southwestern American border and causing tensions between Mexico and the Trump administration to rise. (Kirk)

The stereotypical portrayal of Mexicans. Image: General Emilio Campa and his bodyguards, Mexican War, 1912. The U.S. has a deep-rooted stereotype of Mexicans being criminals, violent individuals and drug syndicates. By the mid-20th century, these stereotypes become very powerful in influencing public opinion and it still continues to shape societal prejudices today. (Piccato)

A study of more than 34,000 news stories referencing Hispanics that appeared in major media outlets From February 9 to August 9, 2009. (Pew Research Center) In entertainment media, Mexicans are presented in a negative light. They are often stereotyped as unintelligent, comedic, aggressive, and as criminals. In news media, they are more often reported on crime, illegal immigration, or drug issues rather than acheivements.

President Donald Trump builds his propaganda on this stereotype and uses it to support his anti-immigration campaign by making alleged claims about the threat posed by Mexican immigrants. He depicts Mexico as a nation filled with drugs and crime to further his political agenda (Piccato). In his campaign, Trump labels Mexican immigrants as rapists, criminals and drug traffickers, setting the stage to restrict both legal and illegal immigration (Vives and Castillo).

This form of racial stereotyping is similar to the association of Chinese immigrants with opium dens in East London during the 19th century Britain (East End Opium Dens and Narcotic Use in Britain). Initially, the Chinese arrived in London as workers for shipping companies, and they established shops and services for the seamen as their numbers increased. Soon after, they formed a small isolated community in East London (Berridge, page 3). The emergence of opium in East End Chinese neighbourhoods led to the formation of a negative image the British society has on the Chinese (Berridge, pages 4 to 7). The ‘opium dens’ in East End were said to be “haunted by evil” and the Chinese were described as “cunning and evil” and “wreathing in opium fumes” (Berridge, page 5). However, this myth that the British society accepted as reality was far from the truth. In reality, ‘opium dens’ in East End were social clubs where people smoke opium and gamble for leisure (Berridge, page 7). East End was actually “peaceful and calm” not “dreadful nor horrible” as in their preconceptions (Berridge, page 7 to 8). But fueled by an anti-immigrant sentiment during that time period (Berridge, page 11), the British society viewed the Chinese as dangerous and would “contaminate” the English people with their “evil” opium smoking (Berridge, pages 14 to 15).

Save your time!
We can take care of your essay
  • Proper editing and formatting
  • Free revision, title page, and bibliography
  • Flexible prices and money-back guarantee
Place Order

In contrast to what most mainstream media tell us today, the truth is that immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born individuals of comparable age. They come to the U.S. in search of better jobs and opportunities, and they contribute to the labor market in some sectors of the economy. (Piccato) U.S. Incarceration Rates of Men Age 18-39, by Nativity, 1980-2010. (American Immigration Council, July 2017) U.S. Incarceration Rates of Native-Born, Mexican, and Salvadoran/Guatemalan Men, Aged 18-39, Without a High School Diploma, 2000 & 2010. (American Immigration Council, July 2017)

According to a research done by the American Immigration Council, immigrants are less likely than native-borns to be behind bars. Analysing data from the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS), roughly 1.6% of immigrant males aged 18 to 39 are incarcerated, whereas the percentage of male native-borns of the same age group that are incarcerated is 3.3%. For decades, this disparity in incarceration rates between immigrants and native-borns have persisted, as shown by data from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 decennial censuses, and the incarceration rates of the native-born were two to five times higher than that of immigrants in each of those years. As stated by the 2010 Census data, the incarceration rates of young, uneducated Mexican men who comprise the majority of illegal immigrants in the U.S. are much lower than that of native-born young men without a high school diploma. The 2010 census shows that the incarceration rate of less-educated native-born men age 18 to 39 is 10.7%, more than three times that of male Mexican immigrants of the same age group which is 2.8%. Despite studies proving that immigrants are unlikely to engage in criminal behavior compared to native-borns and that immigration is not linked to higher crime rates, many U.S. policymakers draft immigration policies based on their fears and prejudices surrounding these stereotypes, leading to rather unfair and cruel law enforcement towards immigrants. (American Immigration Council)

Said describes Orientalism as the stereotypes, beliefs and assumptions about “The East” or “The Orient” and its people. Orientalism is the Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the East (Said, page 2 to 3). Orientalism is created by the Europeans as a method for them to dominate the East in the 18th, 19th, and 20th century. They represent the East as a world of antiquity, mysticism, and exotica, in contrast to West (Said, page 1 to 2). This becomes a generalized view of a large number of different and diverse Eastern countries and its people (Said, page 301). This stereotype helps the Europeans establish power over the Eastern countries they colonized, and to justify their invasion as “saving” and “improving” the eastern countries from their “savagery”. (Said, pages 79, 85, 86, 90, 115, 146, 153,170, 171, 306, and 308). The Easterners are characterized as “degenerate”, “uncivilized” and “superstitious” (Said, pages 38, 52, 175, 207, 216, and 247) by the Europeans. These Orientalist views are spread throughout Europe in the form of paintings, plays, and poems, shaping their society’s views of the East (Said, pages 57, 71, 118, 226).

Similar to what we see in Orientalism, Trump uses the “criminal”, “violent” and “drug syndicate” tropes to justify his hate and prejudice against Mexican immigrants (Piccato). He builds on the public’s preconceived prejudices against Mexican immigrants and uses their fear of these negative stereotypes to convince the public to support his campaign and his anti-immigration policies. As the Hispanic population within the U.S. increased from 2001 to 2010, the news media began framing Hispanics as criminals, illegal immigrants, drug traffickers, and violent. Thus, perpetuating the prejudice and discrimination against Mexicans in society, shaping the people’s biased and racist views (Wiki). Children housed in metal enclosures in the US Border Patrol Central Processing Center in McAllen, Texas, on June 17, 2018. (US Customs and Border Protection)

It is distressing that even in the 21st century, such racist and degenerative stereotypes are still being perpetuated in society. It is wrong and unfair to criminalize Mexican immigrants and blame them for drugs and crime problems the country faces, when the majority of them have nothing to do with it. Instead of pointing fingers at immigrants, we should make the legal immigration process more accessible to them, build better programs for immigrants to assimilate into society, eliminate discriminating stereotypes, and create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants that have resided in the country for a long period of time. This would allow people to register with the government, pass a background check, and be put on a path to permanent residency and eventual citizenship. Building a better immigration system ensures that people no longer have to enter the country illegally or remain outside the law in the future. Hence, They will be contributing to the U.S. economy and paying taxes. We need an immigration system in which there are legal, accessible routes for people to enter into and remain in the U.S and appropriate and fair punishments for violating the rules. (Jawetz)

Building a wall will not stop drug trafficking organizations because they will use alternative routes like ports of entry, underground tunnels, and oceans. Besides, drugs are most commonly smuggled through the ports of entry (Solis). Instead of spending $59.8 billion to build a wall (Nowrasteh), we should work to reduce the demand for illegal drugs in the U.S. and crackdown on money laundering; trade-based money laundering, cryptocurrencies and the darknet to cut off funds for drug trafficking organizations. Moreover, the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) should help governments in the region expand drug prevention and substance-abuse treatment, such as establishing better drug rehabilitation and treatment programs. Furthermore, regional governments should increase the use of sanctions on public and private individuals that are involved in illicit activities (Galindo).

Make sure you submit a unique essay

Our writers will provide you with an essay sample written from scratch: any topic, any deadline, any instructions.

Cite this Page

Unjust Criminalization of Mexican Immigrants. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from
“Unjust Criminalization of Mexican Immigrants.” Edubirdie, 16 Jun. 2022,
Unjust Criminalization of Mexican Immigrants. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 6 Feb. 2023].
Unjust Criminalization of Mexican Immigrants [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 16 [cited 2023 Feb 6]. Available from:
Join 100k satisfied students
  • Get original paper written according to your instructions
  • Save time for what matters most
hire writer

Fair Use Policy

EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via

Check it out!
search Stuck on your essay?

We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.