Banished to the Homeland

Banished to the Homeland: Dominican Deportees and Their Stories of Exile

DAVID C. BROTHERTON
LUIS BARRIOS
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 384
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/brot14934
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  • Book Info
    Banished to the Homeland
    Book Description:

    The 1996 U.S. Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act has led to the forcible deportation of tens of thousands of Dominicans from the United States. Following thousands of these individuals over a seven-year period, David C. Brotherton and Luis Barrios use a unique combination of sociological and criminological reasoning to isolate the forces that motivate emigrants to leave their homeland and then commit crimes in the Unites States violating the very terms of their stay. Housed in urban landscapes rife with gangs, drugs, and tenuous working conditions, these individuals, the authors find, repeatedly play out a tragic scenario, influenced by long-standing historical injustices, punitive politics, and increasingly conservative attitudes undermining basic human rights and freedoms.

    Brotherton and Barrios conclude that a simultaneous process of cultural inclusion and socioeconomic exclusion best explains the trajectory of emigration, settlement, and rejection, and they mark in the behavior of deportees the contradictory effects of dependency and colonialism: the seductive draw of capitalism typified by the American dream versus the material needs of immigrant life; the interests of an elite security state versus the desires of immigrant workers and families to succeed; and the ambitions of the Latino community versus the political realities of those designing crime and immigration laws, which disadvantage poor and vulnerable populations. Filled with riveting life stories and uncommon ethnographic research, this volume relates the modern deportee's journey to broader theoretical studies in transnationalism, assimilation, and social control.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52032-4
    Subjects: Law, Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-7)

    Bauman’s prescient analysis on the processes of social exclusion that appear to be endemic to late modernity frames our study of the lives of subjects who formerly resided in the United States, sometimes for considerable parts of their lives, either as “permanent legal residents” or as “undocumented residents,” but who now find themselves forcibly dispatched to their country of birth, the Dominican Republic, as “criminal deportees.” Our study traces the lives of these embodiments of “human waste” (in Bauman’s terminology) and their bulimic journey (Young 1999, 2007) across the Caribbean as they get pushed, pulled, and ultimately vomited out by...

  5. CHAPTER ONE THE STUDY
    (pp. 9-31)

    In its overt and covert existential meanings and its descriptions of the microworlds of the deportee and the macrostructures of daily life, we can identify in Pedro’s letter (see Introduction) the major conceptual themes of our analysis: the punitive turn in the criminal justice system that overdetermines immigration policy; the traumatic experience of social and cultural exclusion that the French sociologist Sayad (2004) calls the “suffering of the immigrant”; and the efforts of subjects to come to terms with their new roles and identities as deportees. These areas will be carefully developed throughout the remainder of the book. But first,...

  6. CHAPTER TWO SETTING AND SAMPLE
    (pp. 33-51)

    The quote from the Dominican writer, historian, educator, and former president of the Dominican Republic, Juan Bosch, expresses the legitimate aspirations of the Dominican people that unfortunately have never been realized. The Dominican Republic’s history and its contemporary situation present themselves in stark relief to these ambitious and thoroughly democratic principles. Bosch’s experiment lasted all of seven months, from April to September 1963, when it was overthrown by a military coup backed by the United States.

    The participants in this project were born into the Dominican Republic, a country whose history has been shaped in large part by outside powers...

  7. CHAPTER THREE LEAVING FOR AMERICA
    (pp. 53-77)

    In this chapter we seek to answer questions that are in the forefront of the emigrant’s experience but are often sidelined due to an overemphasis on the settlement processes in the immigration literature. We agree with Sayad’s statement (2004) that it is impossible to have a sociology of immigration without a sociology of emigration. The gain of one country is a loss for another; for many in the United States, however, the introduction of new immigrant labor and their families is now construed as a “burden.” When emigrants leave their homeland, they are, by definition, displaced, both socially and culturally...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR SETTLEMENT
    (pp. 79-109)

    In many ways, the contrast between the recollections of Manolo and Juan was seen in the recollections of many of the subjects. Sometimes deportees seemed to have had a rich, fruitful early life in New York, and for others it was always a struggle, always a battle against poverty, the seduction of the neighborhood, and the small refuge found in the major socializing institutions such as schools, the family, or the church. In fact, few subjects talked about the influence of the church, even though we asked questions about the role of organized religion in their lives. Nonetheless, for the...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE PATHWAYS TO CRIME
    (pp. 111-133)

    The neighborhoods where many of the subjects were living are often referred to as “at-risk” environments. These are the social and urban spaces where the working-class immigrants are attempting to settle, reminiscent of what the Chicago School would call “interstitial areas” in the early part of the century. For example, the neighborhood of Washington Heights, where a substantial number of the interviewees came from, had some of the highest rates of poverty and crime in the city throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, the periods during which many of the subjects were growing up. This is not to say that...

  10. CHAPTER SIX PRISON
    (pp. 135-161)

    The stories told by the respondents about their experiences in the U.S. correctional system are nightmarish. It is hard to believe that such stories could be produced by a civilized society. Of course, there is a great deal about the United States—the sanctioning of torture by the U.S. Justice Department, the establishment of Abu Ghraib by the U.S. military, the use of the death penalty in federal and state courts, the structured racism at the root of the human-made disaster after Hurricane Katrina—that makes us ponder how a society that presents itself as a modern democracy cannot guarantee...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN DEPORTED
    (pp. 163-187)

    As described at the end of chapter 6, the act of deportation is harrowing and deeply traumatic, not only for deportees but for their loved ones as well. In the criminological literature, this is sometimes referred to as “collateral damage” (Mauer and Chesney-Lind 2002; Petersilia 2003; Uggen and Manza 2002; and Travis 2002). This phrase is mostly used to explain the broader, unseen, and often unconsidered ramifications of sending the hundreds of thousands of men and women to prison in the United States as a matter of course. Little has been written about the social consequences of deportation, even though...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT BACK IN THE HOMELAND—PART ONE: THE SOCIAL-PSYCHOLOGICAL CRISIS OF THE DEPORTEE
    (pp. 189-209)

    How do deportees fare when they return? How do the different levels of Dominican society react to the deportees? Do deportees adapt easily, using their survival skills and extant social networks to resume their lives? Do they feel shut out, feared and estranged by and from a society that many of them are not familiar with? The quote above makes it clear how the majority of the subjects, particularly those who had been socialized in the United States, encountered their new homeland and felt “branded” in a dubious ritual that, as Goffman (1960) reminds us, has been a constant feature...

  13. CHAPTER NINE BACK IN THE HOMELAND—PART TWO: ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL SURVIVAL
    (pp. 211-241)

    Deportees must survive an ongoing social and economic crisis that befalls most Dominicans. For deportees accustomed to working- or middleclass life in the United States, its vagaries notwithstanding, the depth and spread of the nation’s poverty is a shocking everyday reality for which many are unprepared. Economic marginality is everywhere. From the hundreds of youth and adults begging for spare change on sidewalks, to the legions of school-age children searching for shoes to shine from morning until night, to the hordes of individuals who swarm around cars at traffic lights selling cell phone adaptors, bottles of water, oranges, mangoes, peanuts...

  14. CHAPTER TEN BACK IN THE HOMELAND—PART THREE: PRISON, DOMINICAN STYLE
    (pp. 243-269)

    “Hey Father Barrios, what you doing here? Remember me? Victor from Washington Heights.”

    “Yes, I remember you,” Luis retorts, smiling at the inmate who approaches him. The two warmly embrace, and then Luis explains our presence.

    “We’re here to interview deportees, but the administration says there aren’t any.”

    “There’s loads of us here,” says Victor. “We just don’t tell ‘em we’re deportees ‘cos, you know, they could treat you differently and you don’t wanna stand out here, you know what I mean? I’ll go and get you a bunch.” (Field notes, Rafey Prison, June 5, 2007)

    As noted in the...

  15. CHAPTER ELEVEN THE RETURN OF THE DEPORTEES
    (pp. 271-292)

    This book would be incomplete if we did not discuss those who managed to return to the United States after being deported to the Dominican Republic. For a variety of reasons, these individuals saw no hope for the future by remaining in the Dominican Republic. They felt the pull of their families in the United States so strongly that they had to return, whatever the risk. In this way, deportees resisted their forced exile. Garnering whatever resources they could to make it back across the extensive and massively patrolled U.S. border, they often chose to risk their lives and join...

  16. CHAPTER TWELVE CONCLUSION
    (pp. 293-304)

    This has been a long journey. We spent almost seven years interviewing, observing, investigating, testifying, interpreting, and analyzing the life-worlds of deportees at multiple locations in two countries, working until we were able to draw conclusions. When we started the project in 2002, we thought that the entire process would take two to three years, but with little to no funding (we wrote several grant proposals to both public and private agencies, but no financial support was ever forthcoming despite encouraging reviews) and the enduring complexity of the issues, we felt that we could not end our data collection until...

  17. APPENDIX A: DOMINICAN CENTRAL BANK OCCUPATIONAL DATA
    (pp. 305-312)
  18. APPENDIX B: INTERNET RESOURCES
    (pp. 313-314)
  19. APPENDIX C: IMMIGRANT RIGHTS
    (pp. 315-316)
  20. APPENDIX D: PRO-IMMIGRANT ORGANIZATIONS FIGHTING DEPORTATION
    (pp. 317-328)
  21. NOTES
    (pp. 329-344)
  22. REFERENCES
    (pp. 345-360)
  23. INDEX
    (pp. 361-372)