Mary C. Waters: The War on Crime and the War on Immigrants: Legal Discrimination in the 21st Century


Monday, March 7, 2016, 12:00pm to 1:45pm


Harvard Kennedy School: Allison Dining Room

Mary C. Waters, M.E. Zukerman Professor of Sociology , Harvard University.

The growth of mass incarceration, which disproportionately affects African Americans, and the growth of the population of undocumented immigrants, which disproportionately affects Latino Americans, has been proceeding along parallel tracks.  In this talk I consider these developments together, along with the collateral consequences for families and neighborhoods.  

Overall, the American legal system has systematically denied basic rights to two groups of poor, low-educated, vulnerable populations. I argue that the war on crime and on immigrants has created a new form of legal discrimination against the poor that is better understood with a legal lens, rather than a racial one. 

About the speaker

Mary C. Waters is the M.E. Zukerman Professor of Sociology at Harvard University. She specializes in the study of immigration, inter-group relations, the formation of racial and ethnic identity among the children of immigrants, the challenges of measuring race and ethnicity, and the longitudinal impact of natural disasters.

The author or co-author of 11 books and over 75 articles, Waters is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.

Her study of the children of immigrants, Inheriting the City: The Second Generation Comes of Age (with Philip Kasinitz, John Mollenkopf and Jennifer Holdaway) (Russell Sage Foundation, 2008) won the 2010 American Sociological Association Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Award, the Mira Komarovsky Award of the Eastern Sociological Society, and the Thomas and Znaniecki Award of the International Migration Section of the ASA.

Waters recently chaired the National Academy of Sciences Panel on The Integration of Immigrants into American Society  (View a short brief summarizing their findings), and she is collaborating on a study of the role of government assistance in the integration of Latino immigrants in three American cities. 

See also: Spring 2016