Beyond Discourse: The Criminalization of Asylum Seekers on the US/Mexico Border
AdvisorMartínez, Daniel E.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractBeginning in October of 2018, ICE and CBP began releasing hundreds of asylum seekers into the Tucson community each week. With a strong history of civil initiative and volunteerism, the Tucson community sprang into action to provide aid, support, and advocacy to those seeking refuge. With changing asylum policy and increasingly divisive discourse surrounding asylum, asylum seekers are being subjected to criminalization by US authorities. Using the theoretical lens of legal violence, I argue that asylum seekers find themselves at the intersection of the law, structural violence, and symbolic violence. According to international and domestic law, individuals with a credible fear of remaining in their home country who meet a certain set of criteria may apply for asylum. Despite the protections afforded to asylum seekers, many find themselves discursively labeled as criminals. Through the use of qualitative interview data collected at a local migrant shelter and quantitative intake form data provided by the same shelter, I examine the ways in which asylum seekers understand the experiences of criminalization that they face at the hands of US authorities. In order to make sense of their experiences, I propose the use of four typologies: explicit criminalization, implicit criminalization, normalization of criminalization, and relativity of the criminalization experience. With the utilization of the above typologies and analysis of demographic data, I seek to move beyond discourse to the lived experiences of migrants.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Latin American Studies