Mass deportation and the neoliberal cycle.lasa


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Presentation for LASA 2012 - San Francisco.

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  • I begin with Eric’s story – told here
  • Eric’s story lays bare what I call a “neoliberal cycle” because of the inter-related nature of each of the events in Eric’s life, and their connection to neoliberal reforms both in Guatemala and in the United States. Eric’s family felt compelled to leave Guatemala because of the economic havoc neoliberalism wreaked in their home country (Robinson 2000). Once in the United States, Eric’s mother worked a low-wage factory job – in the neoliberal economy in the United States, outsourcing and overseas competition have kept wages low in the garment industry (Louie 2001). Once his mother became ill, there was no safety net – another factor related to the cutback in social services under neoliberalism (Harvey 2005). Eric was forced to leave school and work two jobs to support his family. Although the state did not provide the resources to help out this family in troubled times, the coercive arm of the state is alive and well. The state spends more money on law enforcement than social services, facilitating Eric’s arrest and deportation. Once arrested, Eric was placed in a private prison – privatization of public services is a key element of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism also enables transnational capitalism, making it such that Eric, a deportee, is able to continue to work for a U.S. corporation in his homeland. The arrival of 26,000 deportees a year into Guatemala ensures a steady supply of bilingual workers for this transnational corporation. As should be clear, mass deportation from the United States is integral to neoliberal reforms, both here and abroad.
  • In 2011, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) deported a record high of 396,906 people—ten times as many as in 1991, more than during the entire decade of the 1980s, yet just short of their quota of 400,000 removals per year.
  • This escalation in deportations is the consequence of legislation passed in 1996, combined with a massive infusion of money into immigration law enforcement in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. With more than 1,000 people deported every day from the United States, it is safe to say that we are in an era of mass deportation.
  • There are about ten million undocumented migrants in the United States who are potentially deportable, in addition to about eleven million legal permanent residents, an unknown number of whom may be eligible for deportation, based on criminal activity, and millions of temporary visitors and students who also could be eligible for deportation. Removing all people who are technically deportable is impossible, even with the tremendous amount of resources currently dedicated to immigration law enforcement. Thus, immigration law enforcement agents must target their efforts and go after what Michelle Alexander calls “the low hanging fruit.” This tactic results in tremendously skewed law enforcement. Nearly all deportees – 98% - are from Latin America and the Caribbean. Even though about 25% of undocumented migrants in the United States are from Asia and Europe, people from these countries are rarely deported. The vast majority – at least 80% - are men. Although about half of all non-citizens are women, women are much less likely to be deported than men.With the advent of mass deportation, we are witnessing an enhancement in the coercive arm of the state. Moreover, there are clear racial and gendered dimensions to this increased intensity of immigration law enforcement. If you walk into an immigration detention center today – where an average of about 34,000 non-citizens are held as they wait on immigration hearings and for their deportation to happen – you will find that nearly all detainees are black and brown men. This is remarkable, because not all immigrants are men, and not all immigrants are from Latin America and the Caribbean. So, how is this happening? Why are most detainees and deportees Latin American and Caribbean men?
  • The answer to this question lies in racial profiling. Border Patrol agents have license to racially profile, as Mexican appearance can be used as an excuse to ask for papers along the border. A more recent development is that immigration law enforcement increasingly is being carried out by criminal law enforcement agents. And, criminal law enforcement in the United States is notoriously discriminatory towards black and brown men (Alexander 2011; Western 200x). Black immigrants such as Dominicans and Jamaicans are particularly susceptible to the enhanced cooperation between police and immigration law enforcement.When I spoke with Dominican and Jamaican deportees, very few of them reported having been arrested by immigration agents along the border. Few Jamaicans and Dominicans enter the United States via Mexico. Some of the Dominicans had traveled to Puerto Rico on small boats, called yolas, and then made it to the US mainland. Nearly all of the Jamaicans and Dominicans I interviewed had arrived in New York City via airplane. Immigration law enforcement agents generally do not have license to walk up and down the streets of U.S. cities and demand proof of U.S. citizenship from pedestrians. The Border Patrol is only authorized to work in U.S. border areas. And, ICE, only has 20,000 employees overall, only a fraction of whom are officers engaged in raiding homes and worksites arresting illegally present immigrants. ICE does not have the staff or resources to patrol the county. Instead, ICE works closely with criminal law enforcement agencies to apprehend immigrants. Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) is the division of ICE that carries out arrests. On an average day, Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers arrest 108 immigrants, and deport 1,057 people. ERO officers arrest many of these 108 immigrants per day after they have been processed through the criminal justice system.
  • There are at least three ways that Police/ICE cooperation works: A police officer pulls over a person for an alleged traffic violation. If that police officer is deputized to work for ICE, they can run the driver’s fingerprints right there on the road. If the driver turns out to be illegally present in the United States or has an immigration hold, the police officer can arrest the driver and hand them over to ICE.A police officer arrests a person and charges them with a crime. They take them to the police station, fingerprint them, and then run their fingerprints through the ICE database. Even if the police decide to drop the charges, if the person turns out to have an immigration hold, they will detain them until ICE comes to pick them up.A police officer arrests a person, charges them with a crime, and the person serves time in jail or prison. Before being released from jail or prison, the police can call ICE to come and check their eligibility to remain in the United States. All three of these scenarios begin with a police arrest. We know well from criminal justice scholarship that black and Latino men are much more likely to be arrested than other people. The cooperation of police with ICE, then, leads to an expansion of this racially stratified system of punishment into the realm of immigration law enforcement. To shed light on this escalation of deportations in recent years, it will be useful to bring in an analysis of neoliberalism.
  • Neoliberalism is an economic ideology based on the idea that the state’s primary role is to protect property rights, free markets, and free trade. According to neoliberal ideology, the needs of the poor are best left to market devices: the state should not intervene and provide social assistance. In the United States, neoliberalism has been implemented to make the country more competitive in the global economy, and to protect the interests of the corporate class. In developing countries, neoliberal reforms have been at the core of their insertion into the global economy. Countries around the world, often at the behest of the International Monetary Foundation (IMF), have implemented economic reforms based on a neoliberal model. These reforms include: 1) deregulation; 2) privatization of public enterprise; 3) trade liberalization; 4) promotion of foreign direct investment; 5) tax cuts; and 6) reduction in public expenditures (Steger 20xx; Harvey 20xx). Each of these reforms is designed to generate foreign currency and to facilitate the entry of the country into the global economy (Robinson 2004). Deregulation creates favorable conditions for investment by allowing the currency to fluctuate and keeping the government out of business exchanges. When public enterprises are privatized, the purchasers are often foreign investors and this process creates an infusion of dollars into the economy. Trade liberalization involves the reduction of tariffs, which promotes international trade. Tax cuts are designed to favor foreign investors. Finally, the reduction in public expenditures ensures a compliant labor force and frees up government money to pay off foreign debts. The spread of neoliberalism around the globe has pulled countries into the global economy, transformed peasants into international migrants, and lured immigrants to toil in low-wage jobs in countries like the United States. Less often discussed is the fact that when immigrants arrive in the United States, they also confront the realities of neoliberal reforms in this country. For many immigrants today, neoliberal reforms means an abundance of low-wage, temporary jobs in the service sector, as well as the enhancement of the coercive arm of the state. These forces work together to transform immigrants into the compliant workers needed in today’s global economy.
  • slide]Focusing on deportation renders it evident that, when we think of international migration today, we must take into account the racial and economic context. Immigrants are becoming part of a racially stratified society in a neoliberal era. There is little to no support for the working class, there is a heavy coercive arm, especially for people of color, and most immigrants are considered to be people of color in the United States. Today, the United States finds itself fear-mongering with regard to terrorists, stripping away the welfare system, enhancing surveillance and coercion, and inequality is widening at a lightning pace. Immigrants are becoming part of the United States in this context. An understanding of how neoliberalism works both here and abroad requires a critical examination of mass deportation.
  • Mass deportation and the neoliberal cycle.lasa

    1. 1. Mass Deportation and the Neoliberal Cycle Tanya Golash-Boza University of Kansas Sociology & American Studies @tanyagolashbozaLASA - 2012
    2. 2. Eric and the neoliberal cycle Global Privatization inequality & outsourcing Enhanced Low wage work enforcement arm Cutbacks in social services
    3. 3. In 2011, the United MassStates DHS deported396,906 people, Deportationmore than double thenumber deported in2002, and morethan the entiredecade of the1980s.
    4. 4. DEPORTATIONS: FY 1980 TO 2010 450,000 400,0001996: 350,000IIRAIRA 300,000 250,0002001: 200,0009/11 150,000 100,0002003: 50,000DHS was 0created
    5. 5. Who gets deported?98% ofdeportees arefrom LatinAmericaand theCaribbean. 80 % of deportees are men.
    6. 6. Racial profiling + Police/ICE cooperation=> Deportation of black and Latino men
    7. 7. How Police/ICE cooperation works1) Police pulls a person over and checks with ICE.2) Police arrests and books a person, then checks with ICE.3) Person is sent to jail. Before being released, ICE is called.
    8. 8. Neoliberalism1) Deregulation2) privatization of public enterprise3) trade liberalization4) promotion of foreign direct investment5) tax cuts6) reduction in public expenditures
    9. 9. Why should we care?An understanding ofcontemporaryneoliberalism requires acritical examination ofmass deportation.- Deportation as social control.- New class of expendable workers.