miners.canary.imm. summaries

Miners.canary.imm. - Week 14 Summary Comments The Miners Canary How we treat the most vulnerable of society affects all of us It has been difficult

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Week 14 Summary Comments: The Miner’s Canary “How we treat the most vulnerable of society affects all of us” It has been difficult for those of us who are students of migration studies, to separate the actual lives of migrants from the imaginings of what America as a state in action is projecting. So much of the discourse emitted post-9/11 has been to portray ‘un- naturalized residents’ as deeply troubling anomalies who are fundamentally out of synch and outside the American political community. In this way, the designation of citizenship has been used to obscure the central role played by both permanent immigrants and transnational migrants (both documented and not) in the development of American economies and societies. Indeed this discourse only works because it builds from and is informed by the existing blocks framed in history and its’ narrative. Thus created, the modern nation-state perpetuates the hegemony of dominant racial and gendered ideologies. The construction of the nation therefore relies on a ‘performance’, which is consistently both overt and subtle. The 1996 Immigration (Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act – IIRIRA) and Welfare (Personal Responsibility Act – PRA) reforms really front these expressions. It might be stated that at one time there was clear view of the immigrant as the potential citizen (which of course led to exclusions of those not deemed eligible for future citizenship generally because of race-based notions of ‘fitness for self- governance’) and that the 1996 reforms essentially closed the door on this period of American history. Instead the alarm that had once been visited upon the undocumented immigrant, forced into both real and ideological separation from the citizen, was now replaced with an increasingly inclusive dichotomy of the non-citizen in all forms and the citizen-body. If this was the behind the scenes maneuvering in the mid to late 1990s emanating from the switch of Congress to Republican control, stage front and center was an increasing racial apathy which sought to remove the state from any affirmative action in responding to the needs of racial minorities who were bearing the brunt of economic transformation and stagnation. On analysis, even though we might focus our attentions on the specific ways in which immigrants both documented and undocumented faired in this climate, in reality we are better served by thinking of the larger neo-conservative backlash, which rolled up its sleeves for a fight against those framed as ‘immoral others’, immigrants included. Citing panic over terrorism (1995 Oklahoma bombing); crime (1992 LA riots); welfare (increasingly accused of being anti-work); race (1994 OJ Simpson); family (rise in out-of-wedlock births and 1996 Defense of Marriage Act) and immigration (1993 Golden Venture) a perpetual state of anxiety bleeds into the public psyche, swiping aside the responsibility of failed neo- liberal economic and social policies. Instead, draconian measures in the 1980s and
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Miners.canary.imm. - Week 14 Summary Comments The Miners Canary How we treat the most vulnerable of society affects all of us It has been difficult

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