“If they notice I’m Mexican”: narratives of perceived discrimination from individuals who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border at ports of entry

Alexander H. Updegrove, Joshua T. Shadwick, Eryn Nicole O’Neal, Alex R. Piquero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding individuals’ encounters with Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the largest law enforcement agency in the United States, is an important theoretical and policy-relevant issue. Travelers entering the U.S. through ports of entry may generalize their experiences with border officials to local law enforcement, and thus, negative experiences at ports of entry may reduce travelers’ willingness to cooperate with police and report victimization. Existing studies, however, have primarily examined unauthorized border crossings rather than travelers’ port of entry experiences. This study uses grounded theory and qualitative data to explore the perceptions and experiences of 191 young adults who discussed how individuals are treated when crossing the U.S.-Mexico border at land ports of entry. Findings show that participants reported perceptions and experiences of discrimination based on physical appearances, language differences, and nationality. Participants also described border officials engaging in routine law enforcement behaviors, including poor policing practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-482
Number of pages25
JournalDeviant Behavior
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

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