Deferred Action and the Discretionary State: Migration, Precarity and Resistance

Citizenship Studies, 2017, pp.1-18

UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2017-41

Posted: 11 Oct 2017

See all articles by Susan Bibler Coutin

Susan Bibler Coutin

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Sameer M. Ashar

UCLA School of Law - UCLA School of Law

Jennifer M. Chacón

University of California, Irvine School of Law; University of Oxford - Border Criminologies

Stephen Lee

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Date Written: September 27, 2017

Abstract

In the United States, the lives of undocumented people have become increasingly precarious due to increased surveillance, enforcement, criminalization, and detention. In this context, deferred action, a form of prosecutorial discretion in which the government declines to pursue removal and provides temporary work authorization, has become a source of both hope and vulnerability. Based on fieldwork, interviews, and legal analysis, we delineate the forms of partial inclusion experienced by deferred action recipients and explore the position from which they can make claims on the US state. Our analysis advances citizenship theory by detailing the relationship between the discretionary state and its transitory, noncitizen subjects, as well as how this relationship is complicated by resistance from youth activists and their allies. The liminal legality afforded by deferred action provides partial but insecure relief from the precarity experienced by the undocumented.

Keywords: immigration, precarity, liminality, discretion, law, United States, resistance

Suggested Citation

Coutin, Susan Bibler and Ashar, Sameer M. and Chacón, Jennifer M. and Lee, Stephen, Deferred Action and the Discretionary State: Migration, Precarity and Resistance (September 27, 2017). Citizenship Studies, 2017, pp.1-18; UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2017-41. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3043921

Susan Bibler Coutin (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

Sameer M. Ashar

UCLA School of Law - UCLA School of Law ( email )

Jennifer M. Chacón

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States
530-754-5700 (Phone)

University of Oxford - Border Criminologies ( email )

Manor Road Building
Manor Rd
Oxford, OX1 3UQ
United Kingdom

Stephen Lee

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

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