Jessie K. Finch
PhD Candidate School of Sociology University of Arizona
“Legal Borders, Racial/Ethnic Boundaries: Operation Streamline and Identity Processes on the US-Mexico Border.”
How do individuals navigate situations in which their work-role identity is put in conflict with their social identities such as race/ethnicity, nationality, or citizenship status? This research uses a controversial criminal immigration court procedure (Operation Streamline) as an optimal setting to work towards a theory of conflicting identity management. In particular, Latino/a judges and lawyers who participate in Operation Streamline take on a specific work- related role identity that entails assisting in the conviction and sentencing of border-crossers with whom they share one social identity—race/ethnicity—but do not share another social identity—citizenship. Using a mixed-method qualitative research design (over 100 hours of ethnographic observations; 53 in-depth interviews with an embedded experiment; and content analyses on over 80 documents), this study systematically assesses strategies used by lawyers and judges to manage these multiple conflicting identities while investigating under what circumstances these identities affect job-related interactions.