Sensors, Cameras, and the New 'Normal' in Clandestine Migration: How Undocumented Migrants Experience Surveillance at the U.S.-Mexico Border

Surveillance & Society 15(1): 21-41 (2017)

21 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2016 Last revised: 17 Mar 2017

See all articles by Bryce Clayton Newell

Bryce Clayton Newell

University of Oregon - School of Journalism and Communication

Ricardo Gomez

University of Washington - The Information School

Verónica Guajardo

University of Washington - The Information School

Date Written: March 18, 2016

Abstract

This paper presents findings from an exploratory qualitative study of the experiences and perceptions of undocumented (irregular) migrants to the United States with various forms of surveillance in the borderlands between the U.S. and Mexico. Based on fieldwork conducted primarily in a migrant shelter in Nogales, Mexico, we find that migrants generally have a fairly sophisticated understanding about U.S. Border Patrol surveillance and technology use and that they consciously engage in forms of resistance or avoidance. Heightened levels of border surveillance may be deterring a minority of migrants from attempting immediate future crossings, but most interviewees were undeterred in their desire to enter the U.S., preferring to find ways to avoid government surveillance. Furthermore, migrants exhibit a general lack of trust in the “promise” of technology (including body-worn cameras and the Transborder Immigrant Tool) to improve their circumstances and increase their safety during clandestine border-crossing — often due to fears that technology use makes them vulnerable to state surveillance, tracking, and arrest.

Keywords: surveillance, migration, immigration, undocumented, irregular, borderlands, border, United States, Mexico, border patrol, border enforcement, body cameras, body-worn cameras, qualitative, empirical, resistance, migrants

Suggested Citation

Newell, Bryce Clayton and Gomez, Ricardo and Guajardo, Verónica, Sensors, Cameras, and the New 'Normal' in Clandestine Migration: How Undocumented Migrants Experience Surveillance at the U.S.-Mexico Border (March 18, 2016). Surveillance & Society 15(1): 21-41 (2017), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2749545

Bryce Clayton Newell (Contact Author)

University of Oregon - School of Journalism and Communication ( email )

Eugene, OR
United States

Ricardo Gomez

University of Washington - The Information School ( email )

Box 353350
Seattle, WA 98195
United States

Verónica Guajardo

University of Washington - The Information School ( email )

Box 353350
Seattle, WA 98195
United States

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