Abstract

Drawing from data obtained in a comparative study of US district courts’ criminal justice practices, this paper examines adjudication processing responses at the intersection of immigration and drug offences in a Southwestern federal district court, where the logic of immigration enforcement subsumes more traditional federal drug law enforcement. I demonstrate how characteristics of ‘drug cases’ are constructed at this intersection in such a manner that they stand apart from the prototypical federal drug case, and more closely resemble criminal immigration cases. I argue that in this border jurisdiction, the prevailing adjudicatory logic is concerned with defendants’ status as unauthorized outsiders such that these defendants are barely distinguishable from immigration defendants in how their sentences are calculated and rhetorically justified.

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