Mujeres en el Cruce: Mapping Family Separation/Reunification at a Time of Border (In)Security
AuthorO'Leary, Anna Ochoa
AffiliationUniversity of Arizona, Mexican American Studies and Research Center
KeywordsUnited States. -- Immigration Border Patrol -- Officials and employees -- Mexican-American Border Region
Immigrants -- Mexican-American Border Region
Women migrant labor -- Mexican-American Border Region
Families -- Mexican-American Border Region
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RightsThe MASRC Working Paper Series © The Arizona Board of Regents
Collection InformationThe goal of the Mexican American Studies & Research Center's Working Paper Series is to disseminate recent research on the Mexican American experience. The Center welcomes papers from the social sciences, public policy fields, and the humanities. Areas of particular interest include economic and political participation of Mexican Americans, health, immigration, and education. The Mexican American Studies & Research Center assumes no responsibility for statements or opinions of contributors to its Working Paper Series.
AbstractIn this paper I discuss some of the findings in my study of the encounters between female migrants and immigration enforcement authorities along the U.S.-Mexico border. An objective of the research is to ascertain a more accurate picture of women temporarily suspended in the “intersection” of diametrically opposed processes: immigration enforcement and transnational mobility. Of the many issues that have emerged from this research, family separation is most palpable. This suggests a deeply entrenched relationship between immigration enforcement and the transnationalization of family ties. While this relationship may at first not be obvious, women’s accounts of family separation and family reunification show how, in reconciling these contradictory tendencies, migrant mobility is strengthened, which in turn challenges enforcement measures. In this way, the intersection not only sheds light on how opposing forces (enforcement and mobility) converge but also how each is contingent on the other. This analysis is possible in part through the use of a conceptual intersection of diametrically opposed forces, border enforcement and transnational movement, and thus proves useful in examining the transformative nature of globalized spaces.
Series/Report no.MASRC Working Paper Series; 34
CollectionsWorking Paper Series
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The Border Enforcement "Funnel Effect": A Material Culture Approach to Border Security on the Arizona-Sonora Border, 2000-PresentSoto, Gabriella (The University of Arizona., 2018)Nearly two decades have passed since the strategic border security paradigm known as “prevention through deterrence” (PTD) took root in the landscape of Southern Arizona. The aim of PTD was to deter illicit migration by strategically amassing border security forces to funnel migrants into increasingly remote and treacherous territory where they would face increased risk. Indeed, risk was to be the prime factor of deterrence. Thousands of undocumented migrants died attempting to overcome those risks in an outcome known as the “funnel effect,” wherein migration patterns shifted to overcome bypass and overcome border security. When speaking about PTD taking root in southern Arizona, I mean that this geography is the locus of the funnel effect and has been since 2001. Southern Arizona represents the longest stretch of border walling in the United States and the highest concentrations of border security personnel and undocumented migration activity since the early 2000s. In this sense, this region is a useful point of focus for evaluating the outcomes and efficacy of the border security apparatus. Here, the PTD strategy has been physically tethered to the landscape as border security infrastructure has literally been dug into the ground. With the hundreds of border security infrastructure and wall projects have also come the hundreds of clandestine trails routed around them used by undocumented migrants, and hundreds of tons of left behind migrant survival materials like backpacks, water bottles, blankets, and rosaries. Over the years while border security has expanded, the evidence associated with migration has shifted in turn reflecting a dialectical engagement between the formal border security apparatus and the informal politics of migrants. While many scholars have studied either border security or the risks faced by migrants, few have looked at their mutual influence over time. This dissertation incorporated a multidisciplinary methodological approach, including ethnography, archival research, archaeology, and GIS technology. These methods allowed me to answer the following questions: What are the social and material effects of border enforcement policy on the ground? How have these changed over the 15 years of concentrated border enforcement in this area, both geographically and in terms of their volume and constitution? What are the stories, the experiences, and the tangible points on the landscape that mark these processes? I viewed the material signature of migration as a form of ruins both literally and metaphorically as they mark the scars of abandonment, loss, and failure. Following Walter Benjamin, I conceived of such ruins as an indictment of the political conditions that led to their formation. In the spirit of Benjamin, I also prioritized this form of marginalized material evidence. Questions of memory and materiality were also entwined with realities of absence and a search for fragmentary traces. I encountered this reality constantly in fieldwork, as when a place known to have been a major clandestine travel corridor for migration was often found completely cleared of all evidence of use. I also routinely walked past coordinates where migrant bodies were recovered, and where no evidence of that tragedy was left. A dialectical approach also highlighted how much more accessible and visible the actions related to the implementation of the United States border security were in relation to those of migrants. Further, the material evidence associated with migration was actively being removed, often as an environmental hazard. Thus, this project also came to encompass questions about the process of historical creation and heritage. Among those who live and work in the borderlands, this contemporary situation was already largely conceptualized in terms of its heritage potential. Will we remember this episode in history as we remember the Berlin Wall, or Japanese internment camps in the United States, as many of the border residents who participated in my project speculated? Certain public land managers along the border anticipated that their heritage future may well be as lands associated with the migration experience, circa the turn of the 21st century. It is acknowledged that this is a dark chapter of history. But, how does one curate history in the making? All of this inextricably links to issues of power. This is the power to decide what is culturally valuable or relevant, as well as the power to define historical narratives as they are made. Border security itself is about maintaining U.S. sovereignty, while defining the value of migrant lives and deaths as the border is secured. This is also a set of values that prioritizes border security over reform to the system that could facilitate labor migration. There is also a hierarchy to what survives between the monumental architecture of border security and the ephemeral tools and structures of clandestine migration. The latter are hidden and actively decaying while the former will stand the test of time. This dissertation analyzes the informal and the fragmentary side by side with the formal and monumental. What do decaying survival materials dropped by undocumented migrants, decaying migrant bodies in the wilderness, and hundreds of miles of clandestine smuggler trails in one of the most highly secured borderlands in one of the most powerful countries in the world say about power here? On a practical level, the accumulated evidence are read as an indictment of border security, revealing that the building of walls and surveillance structures have not stopped migration, though they have led to increasingly imperiled migrant journeys.
Support Group at the Border: A Pilot Social Support Program for the Well-Being of Mexican Immigrant Women Residing Near the Southern U.S.-Mexico Border RegionMorales, Stephanie Ruíz (The University of Arizona., 2017)Mexican immigrant women are a vulnerable population group in the U.S., and face challenges as a result of the nation’s anti-immigrant landscape. To help Mexican immigrant women cope with these realities, scholars have proposed the implementation of social support interventions. Yet only two studies have executed social support interventions for immigrant women. Those tailored specifically for Mexican immigrant women are nonexistent. To address this gap, this Master's thesis piloted the first social support intervention for Mexican immigrant women in the U.S. The purpose was to assess the impact of a social support intervention on the perceived social support for Mexican immigrant women. The study (1) surveyed Mexican immigrant women's current perceived social support, (2) investigated whether engaging in a social support intervention could improve Mexican immigrant women's perceived social support, and (3) explored (through the use of a foto novela) the elements (e.g., persons, places) Mexican immigrant women consider to be most important sources of social support in their lives. Surveys were administered pre- and post-intervention assessing perceived social support using three Likert-type scales. At pre-intervention, perceived social support was moderately high. A difference in perceived social support at post-intervention was observed, but without significance. This work adds to the small body of literature on social support interventions for Mexican immigrant women, and has important implications for future interventions and research. This work also documents the use of foto novelas – an innovative tool to engage with (and give a voice to) Mexican immigrant women. Future work should consider the use of foto novelas, as these amplify new understandings of social support, and capture (through the use of photographs) Mexican immigrant women’s own interpretation of social support.
Legal Borders, Racial/Ethnic Boundaries: Operation Streamline and Identity Processes on the US-México BorderFinch, Jessie K. (The University of Arizona., 2015)How do individuals navigate situations in which their work-role identity is put in competition with social identities of race/ethnicity, nationality, or citizenship/generational status? This research uses a controversial criminal court procedure (Operation Streamline) as an optimal setting to understand the strategies employed by lawyers and judges who manage such delicate identity processes. I examine how legal professionals assign salience to their various identities while developing a perspective of competing identity management that builds on and further integrates prior sociological research on identity. In particular, Latino/a judges and lawyers who participate in Operation Streamline (OSL) take on a specific work-related role identity that entails assisting in the conviction and sentencing of border-crossers with whom they share one social identity—race/ethnicity—but do not share another social identity—citizenship. I systematically assess identity management strategies used by lawyers and judges to manage these multiple competing identities while seeking to comprehend under what circumstances these identities affect legal professionals' job-related interactions. In this dissertation, I demonstrate that Latino/a lawyers and judges involved with OSL manage their potentially competing social and role identities differently than non-Latino/as whose social identities do not compete with their role identities, demonstrating variation between racial/ethnic social identities. I also find that some Latino/a lawyers and judges (those with higher racial/ethnic social identity salience) involved with OSL manage their potentially competing social and role identities differently than other Latino/a lawyers and judges (those with higher racial/ethnic social identity salience), demonstrating variation within racial/ethnic social identity based on the social identity of citizenship/generational status. Finally, I demonstrate that situationality is a factor in identity management because a shared social identity with defendants seems to be useful in the daily work of Latino/a lawyers and judges, but often detrimental in how they are perceived by outsiders such as activists and the media. From this case, we can take the findings and begin to create an outline for a new theory of competing identity management, integrating prior literatures on social and role identities. I have been able to elaborate mechanisms of some identity management processes while also developing grounded hypotheses on which to base future research. My research also contributes to improving how the criminal justice system deals with sensitive racial/ethnic issues surrounding immigration crimes and en masse proceedings such as OSL. Because proposed "comprehensive immigration reform" includes expanding programs like OSL, my research to understand the broader effects of the program on legal professionals is especially important not only to social scientists but to society at large. The fact that there is a difference in identity management strategies for Latino/a and non-Latino/a respondents helps demonstrate there is in fact an underlying racial tension present in Operation Streamline.