Week 3 – “Quien Sabe?”: Deportation and Temporality Among Transnational Mexicans
This article brings to light a very important topic, and although a little difficult to follow at times, I think it presents a reality through a slice of life, based on a long history of migration between the United States and Mexico.
As the author states, migration between the U.S. and Mexico, at least along formal programs goes back to the end of WWII with the introduction of the Bracero program. This program can be seen in parallel with the guest-worker programs in Germany and Switzerland during the same time period, even though the type of work done was different. Many temporary worker programs continue to exist in one way or another throughout the globe.
Before continuing with the analysis, it’s worth noting the Obama administration oversaw the highest number of deportations, ever. It’s too soon to see what this new administration will do, but it doesn’t look like it will get better. At the same time, it’s worth noting that since the beginning of the ‘great recession’ in 2007-8 until today, net migration (the difference between people coming-in and leaving) between the U.S. and Mexico is at zero. Moreover, if statistics can tell the future, “Asians Now Outpace Mexicans In Terms of Undocumented Growth” (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/08/asians-now-outpace-mexicans-in-terms-of-undocumented-growth/432603/). Regardless of where in the world migration shifts from and toward, the United States, it seems, will continue to attract a large number of migrants (documented and undocumented).
This article is a result of ethnographic work carried-out by the author, and although she does not go deep into her ethnography, she does explore and analyze how this concept of ‘deportability’, not only affects those directly affected by the removal process (a euphemism for deportation), but also families and communities on both sides of the border.
The very real dualities of un/certainty and im/permanence, although I would say part of all migrants, be them international students, bankers, IT personnel, etc., but having to contend this un/certainty as an undocumented individual, couple, family, or as a mixed-status family creates a daily tension of ‘losing your whole world’ as one of the people interviewed for the study asserted.
The author presented the deportation, or the concept of deportability through a prism in which we expand the view of how a removal affects an individual, but just as important, family and community.
I found this aspect of the article defining since, for the most part, even though families and communities are always affected, most of the time, the focus is placed on the individual ‘removed’ through a prism of criminality.
Walking the fine line between a generational project that is migration and deportation, which voids a person’s future, as the author argues, presents a clear case of how the power of the nation-state is very present in everyday life.
Deportation, or ‘deportability’ also contributes to un/certainty within families, especially those of mixed status (some are U.S. citizens, while others maybe permanent residents, and others yet, undocumented), while at the same time, it creates a fear within communities that could impact future generations since it is possible families could remain as mixed status perpetually.
Since the issue of ‘deportability’ is a real threat, many cities in the U.S. have become what are known as sanctuary cities, where local police are prevented from asking people stopped, or arrested from their immigration status. This however is changing with Trump administration, which has vowed (we’ll see if it happens) to cut-off federal funding sources from cities that do not comply. For example, Texas just passed a law that makes local police check an individual’s immigration status even if not charged with a crime. Time will tell how this plays out.
What do you guys think of the article?