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Pregnant on Arrival

Pregnant on Arrival: Making the Illegal Immigrant

Eithne Luibhéid
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 312
  • Book Info
    Pregnant on Arrival
    Book Description:

    "State alert as pregnant asylum seekers aim for Ireland." "Country Being Held Hostage by Con Men, Spongers, and Those Taking Advantage of the Maternity Residency Policy." From 1997 to 2004, headlines such as these dominated Ireland's mainstream media as pregnant immigrants were recast as "illegals" entering the country to gain legal residency through childbirth. As immigration soared, Irish media and politicians began to equate this phenomenon with illegal immigration that threatened to destroy the country's social, cultural, and economic fabric. Pregnant on Arrival explores how pregnant immigrants were made into paradigmatic figures of illegal immigration, as well as the measures this characterization set into motion and the consequences for immigrants and citizens. While focusing on Ireland, Eithne Luibhéid's analysis illuminates global struggles over the citizenship status of children born to immigrant parents in countries as diverse as the United States, Hong Kong, and elsewhere. Scholarship on the social construction of the illegal immigrant calls on histories of colonialism, global capitalism, racism, and exclusionary nation building but has been largely silent on the role of nationalist sexual regimes in determining legal status. Eithne Luibhéid turns to queer theory to understand how pregnancy, sexuality, and immigrants' relationships to prevailing sexual norms affect their chances of being designated as legal or illegal. Pregnant on Arrival offers unvarnished insight into how categories of immigrant legal status emerge and change, how sexual regimes figure prominently in these processes, and how efforts to prevent illegal immigration ultimately redefine nationalist sexual norms and associated racial, gender, economic, and geopolitical hierarchies.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8540-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. A Note on Terminology
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-30)

    In the 1990s, Ireland became transformed from a nation drained by centuries of emigration into what U.S. investment firm Morgan Stanley dubbed the “Celtic Tiger,” a destination that was sought out by migrants from around the world.¹ They included not only workers from the European Union (EU), United States, Asia, and elsewhere but also asylum seekers who were often from West Africa and Eastern Europe. Asylum seekers are migrants who gain admission on the grounds that they fear persecution. This book focuses on the Irish government’s and public’s responses to pregnant asylum seekers who acquired legal residency by giving birth...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Shifting Boundaries through Discourses of Childbearing
    (pp. 31-54)

    National, colonial, and racial relationships have historically depended on discourses about women’s sexed bodies to establish hierarchies of differences. Actual women’s bodies were often studied, exhibited, or otherwise used to affirm and naturalize these hierarchies.¹ One of the most infamous examples of a woman whose body was used in these ways was Saartjie, or Sarah, Baartman, a young Khoisan woman from Southern Africa who was exhibited in Europe between 1810 and 1815.² She was exhibited particularly so that Europeans could gaze upon her buttocks and genitalia, which were primary sites used by scientists at the time to establish racial and...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Counternarratives of Migration Law and Childbearing
    (pp. 55-86)

    Minister for justice john o’donoghue’s remarks, analyzed in chapter 1, reflect the viewpoint of global northern state officials who consider unauthorized human migration across international borders to be a very serious problem. The remarks also reflect and further contribute to the framing of childbearing migrants, especially asylum seekers, as “really” illegal migrants who are cynically exploiting the system for their own gain. According to the minister, this necessitated further efforts to criminalize them.

    Catherine Dauvergne captures the paradox that faces states when they try to reduce illegal migration primarily through expanded criminalization: “Each extension of the law regulating migration increases...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Baby Gives Birth to Parents: Direct Provision and Subject Formation
    (pp. 87-124)

    This chapter describes the emergence of the direct provision and dispersal systems through which asylum seekers are provided with lodging, food, and health care while waiting for their asylum claims to be decided. Unlike the regular welfare system, direct provision does not seek to produce entrepreneurial, self-governing subjects for the neo-liberal nation-state; rather, it seeks to deter asylum seekers from arriving, and to ensure that those who do arrive remain strictly controlled, contained, and effectively incapacitated. In this way, asylum seekers can more readily be made illegal and deportable after their claims are denied, as happens in the vast majority...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The “Right to Life of the Unborn” and Migration Controls
    (pp. 125-148)

    In january 2002 Ms. I.A.O., a thirty-two-year-old Nigerian citizen, made headlines in Ireland when she appealed to the High Court to prevent her deportation to Nigeria on the ground that she was pregnant. Her solicitor, deploying pro-life rhetoric, claimed that her deportation contravened Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution, which guarantees that the Irish State will “defend and vindicate” the “right to life of the unborn.”¹ Ms. O had entered Ireland in December 1999, claiming asylum on the basis that she feared her life would be in danger if she returned to Nigeria. An official who interviewed her judged her...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Reproductive Futurism and the Temporality of Migration Control
    (pp. 149-174)

    In march 2004 the minister for justice announced that voters would be asked to amend the constitution by removing the automatic entitlement to citizenship for any child born in Ireland, north or south. Newborn children who did not have at least one parent who was an Irish citizen, who was entitled to Irish citizenship, or who had resided legally in Ireland for three of the last four years would no longer acquire citizenship at birth. The targets of the proposed amendment were migrants, although their children were most directly affected. Migrants were targeted because “there has been no significant diminution...

  10. CHAPTER 6 From Childbearing to Multiple Sexuality and Migration Struggles
    (pp. 175-190)

    This book has tracked how pregnancy and migrant status became interwoven through panics over illegal immigration that expanded the numbers of migrants who would become designated as illegal while at the same time refashioning social, economic, and geopolitical hierarchies. This chapter argues that struggles over migrant pregnancies were part of a wider constellation of conflicts over migrant sexualities and intimacies that, although distinct in important ways, were nonetheless linked through their antagonistic relationship to nationalist hetero-normativity. First I describe what happened to migrant parents with citizen children after the passage of the citizenship referendum. Next I briefly discuss other conflicts...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 191-210)

    Judith butler calls for scholarship and activisms “focused on opposition to state violence and its capacity to produce, exploit, and distribute precarity for the purposes of profit and territorial defense.”¹ As she describes and as this book demonstrates, effective opposition requires “thinking sexual politics along with immigration politics in new ways.”² Thus, this concluding chapter first brings the book’s arguments together by reviewing how pregnancy became the basis for claiming that certain migrants were “illegal” and then implementing laws and policies that made them so. Second, this chapter addresses how the production of the figure of the illegal migrant is...

  12. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 211-214)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 215-288)
  14. Index
    (pp. 289-300)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 301-301)