Perpetual_Illegality_Results_of_Border_E.pdf - Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy Vol 12 No 1 2012 pp 49-67 Perpetual Illegality Results of

Perpetual_Illegality_Results_of_Border_E.pdf - Analyses of...

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Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2012, pp. 49--67 Perpetual Illegality: Results of Border Enforcement and Policies for Mexican Undocumented Migrants in the United States Heidy Sarabia University of California Berkeley In this paper, I will first discuss the historical development of the Mexican migrant as “illegal.” Second, I will discuss current border control and legalization policies and their effects on the undocumented population in the United States. Finally, reflecting on the effects of previous policies, I will discuss Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s proposed “three-legged stool” and its likely effects on the undocumented population in the United States. I will argue that the current immigration system, and any future proposals that include border enforcement as the primary mechanism to stop undocumented migrants from entering the United States will likely result in the continual perpetuation of an undocumented population of Mexican migrants in the United States. This paper is informed by the ethnographic data collected from July 2009 to August 2010 in the border city of Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico. During this time at the border, I talked to migrants deported from the United States. What do the U.S.–Mexico border, an airport, and the Statue of Liberty have in common? Albeit in different ways, these are symbols, ideologies, and structures intended to manage, control, and discipline people on the move, more specifically, people crossing international boundaries. Thus, these symbols have both ideologi- cal and material consequences for the flow of both documented and undocumented migrants into the United States. Today, a major concern for politicians, citizens, and scholars alike is the flow of undocumented migrants into the United States, as well as the social, political, and economic consequences of having a large population of people living undocumented in the United States, a population estimated at 11.9 million people (Passel & Cohn, 2009). Thus, immigration reform has become a key Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Heidy Sarabia, University of California Berkeley, Department of Sociology, 410 Barrows Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720 [e-mail: [email protected]]. 49 DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-2415.2011.01256.x C 2011 The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
50 Sarabia phrase that signals the desires and commitments of politicians to address the issue of undocumented migrants. But what exactly does “immigration reform” entail? In her remarks to the Center for American Progress in November 2009, Sec- retary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Janet Napolitano explained her vision for immigration reform by using the metaphor of a “three-legged stool,” which includes “[1] a commitment to serious and effective enforcement, [2] im- proved legal flows for families and workers, and [3] a firm but fair way to deal with those who are already here” (Napolitano, 2009). But what is the relationship between these three, seemingly separate, yet related policies? What have been the

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