American Immigration After 1996

American Immigration After 1996: The Shifting Ground of Political Inclusion

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 192
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    American Immigration After 1996
    Book Description:

    Few topics generate as much heated public debate in the United States today as immigration across our southern border. Two positions have been staked out, one favoring the expansion of guest-worker programs and focusing on the economic benefits of immigration, and the other proposing greater physical and other barriers to entry and focusing more on the perceived threat to national security from immigration. Both sides of this debate, however, rely in their arguments on preconceived notions and unexamined assumptions about assimilation, national identity, economic participation, legality, political loyalty, and gender roles. In American Immigration After 1996, Kathleen Arnold aims to reveal more of the underlying complexities of immigration and, in particular, to cast light on the relationship between globalization of the economy and issues of political sovereignty, especially what she calls “prerogative power” as it is exercised by the U.S. government.

    eISBN: 978-0-271-05545-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    In the two years preceding the 2008 presidential election, immigration became a hot topic of public discussion for the first time since the mid- 1990s.¹ In light of the events of September 11, 2001, it has generally been taken for granted that there is an “immigration problem,” and concern has largely been directed at unauthorized entrants, mostly from Mexico.² Although the perception that there is a serious immigration problem is nothing new, the issue took on new momentum in this brief time period.³ In 2006, for example, arrests of immigrants nationwide doubled;⁴ President George W. Bush succeeded in doubling the...

    (pp. 17-46)

    In this chapter, I explore presuppositions about assimilation norms expressed in recent literature, public policy, and public debate. This discussion will be schematic, ignoring the complexities of some authors’ arguments, but will point to largely unexamined preconceptions in all these areas. The literature I am broadly referring to includes the work of conservatives like Lawrence Auster, Samuel Huntington, Peter Skerry, and George Borjas; moderates like Rogers Brubaker, Victor Nee, and Richard Alba; and accounts that still rely on conventional categories but can be classified as either alternative or more progressive, such as those of Alejandro Portes and Rubén Rumbaut. These...

  6. 2 ENEMY INVADERS! Mexican Immigrants and U.S. Wars Against Them
    (pp. 47-70)

    Although U.S. assimilation norms have been historically intolerant of groups who are also the most politically and economically vulnerable, issues of national security, sovereignty, and war time measures today interact with these norms to produce a progressively more hostile context of reception for controversial immigration groups.¹ In this chapter and the next, I investigate how poorer Mexican immigrant workers have been increasingly, constructed as threats to American national sovereignty, and thus more as enemies than either “legals” or (criminal) “illegals.” Older discourses and stereotypes about Mexican immigrants resonate with recent national security concerns and the sovereign decision making found in...

  7. 3 ANTI-IMMIGRATION GROUPS AND CIVIL SOCIETY Pathway to Democracy or Support for Prerogative Power?
    (pp. 71-89)

    In this chapter, I continue evaluating the state of democracy in the United States today by exploring a limited number of anti-immigrant groups, including the Minutemen, Ranch Rescue, Civil Defense League, and FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform), in order to interrogate their status as political organizations and supporters of (or detractors from) civil society.¹ That is, I question the role of these groups in fostering democracy and political inclusion, and thus I consider how they affect Mexican immigrants to the United States, whether legal or illegal. In examining this issue, problems that were articulated by the American founders, Montesquieu,...

  8. 4 HOMO LABORANS, STATELESSNESS, AND TERROR Economic Deregulation and the Strengthening of Sovereignty
    (pp. 90-120)

    In this chapter, I would like to suggest that two programs—the U.S. guest—worker program and the Border Industrial Program (or maquila program)—are spaces created in reaction to perceived political and economic emergencies. Both programs are legal and operate outside normal laws and practices, and both are viewed as temporary. But not only have they lasted far beyond the original “emergencies” that inspired their creation, but they also have a significant impact on low-tier informal work in the same industries. Although both are assumed to be free zones—meaning that they are supposed to be purely economic in...

  9. Conclusion The Right to Rights?
    (pp. 121-141)

    In this chapter, I will argue that cosmopolitan politics—a commitment to democratic practices and rights performed on multiple levels—is the necessary solution to the problems I have considered in this book. But I would first like to frame this solution in terms of the critiques I have offered thus far. In this book, I have explored how a controversial immigrant group is caught up in three important processes: the continued primacy of the nation-state in defining political belonging; the operations of global capital in national territory; and the deployment of the war on terror, which has shaped recent...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 142-177)
  11. Index
    (pp. 178-182)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 183-183)