Sovereignty and the City: Raiding, Detaining, and Domestic Immigration Policing
19 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2010 Last revised: 26 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 25, 2010
In this paper I focus on the political spatiality of immigration enforcement. In particular, I suggest that in the last two decades a network of immigration enforcement has been layered over existing spatial features of the American landscape. I examine the network of highways and transportation, the growth in work and home raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the expansion of the immigrant detention network. About these, I suggest that they constitute spaces of racialized policing. The turn of these realms into spaces of security has reduced the capacity of migrants to access and create public spaces. The segregation of urban and suburban America, as well as the divergent meaning that the above-mentioned spaces elicit in non-racialized individuals, has hidden the growth in reach of the policing capacities of the state. These policing capacities are legitimized by the guiding fictions of external sovereignty and invade domestic spaces imperiling the capacity of migrants to take these spaces and - through democratic action - contests exclusionary discourses of citizenship and put forward claims for a right to membership. If rights, conceptualized by Don Mitchell as “a cry and a demand,” can only be heard when there is a space from which these cries and demands are visible, I suggest that the spatial transformations that characterized immigration enforcement have focused on reducing the spaces in which immigrants (and, through racialization, all Latina/os in the United States) can safely stand to contest and challenge the existing power relations.
Keywords: immigration, enforcement, space, democracy
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