SEATTLE — After September 11, issues of immigration and terrorism merged, heightening surveillance and racializing Latino immigrants as a threat to national security, according to sociologists at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin).
Latino immigration in the United States has long sparked passionate debates, with Latinos often racialized as ‘illegal aliens’ posing an economic threat. But following the al-Qaeda-led terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the fear of another attack, coupled with Islamophobia, streamlined immigration agendas with anti-terrorism rhetoric, policies, and institutional efforts, racializing Latinos in a new way, the researchers said.
“Neither contemporary political rhetoric, nor policy, nor institutional change in regards to immigration and terrorism can be properly understood in isolation without taking into account how these issues are brought together at specific moments,” Amina Zarrugh, a UT Austin sociology alumna who will be an assistant professor of sociology at Texas Christian University in the fall. “In fact, the endurance of certain political agendas is made all the more powerful through their connection with other important agendas, each of which reinforces the other.”
Using government reports and media accounts, Zarrugh and UT Austin sociology PhD candidate Luis A. Romero, who will present their paper at the 111th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA), analyzed political rhetoric, immigration policy, government reports, and non-governmental evaluations to explain how Islamophobia — or the extreme and irrational fear of Muslims and Islam — is deployed against Latinos to garner political support, create fear, and justify increased surveillance and immigration enforcement.
Citing examples of politicians blaming “porous borders” for “enormous problems,” a commercial which paired images of terrorists with images of Latinos crossing the border, and fabricated rumors of a terrorist training camp at the U.S.-Mexico border near Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, the researchers concluded that political rhetoric in the aftermath …