Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Keeping Out the Other

Keeping Out the Other: A Critical Introduction to Immigration Enforcement Today

David C. Brotherton
Philip Kretsedemas
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 432
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Keeping Out the Other
    Book Description:

    America's reputation for open immigration has always been accompanied by a desire to remove or discourage the migration of "undesirables." But recent restrictions placed on immigrants, along with an increase in detentions and deportations, point to a more worrying trend. Immigration enforcement has become the fastest growing sector for spending over the past two decades, dwarfing the money spent on helping immigrants adjust to their new lives. Instead of finding effective ways of integrating newcomers into American society, the United States is focusing on making the process of citizenship more difficult, provoking major protests and unrest.

    David C. Brotherton and Philip Kretsedemas provide a history and analysis of recent immigration enforcement in the United States, demonstrating that our current anti-immigration tendencies are not a knee-jerk reaction to the events of September 11. Rather, they have been gathering steam for decades. With contributions from social scientists, policy analysts, legal experts, community organizers, and journalists, the volume critically examines the discourse that has framed the question of immigration enforcement for the general public. It also explores the politics and practice of deportation, new forms of immigrant profiling, relevant case law, and antiterrorist operations. Some contributors couch their critiques in an appeal to constitutional law and the defense of civil liberties. Others draw on the theories of structural inequality and institutional discrimination. These diverse perspectives stimulate new ways of thinking about the issue of immigration enforcement, proving that "security" has more to do with improving legal rights, social mobility, and the well-being of all U.S. residents than keeping out the "other."

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53424-6
    Subjects: Sociology, Law, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. FOREWORD: Justice and the Outsider
    (pp. ix-xii)

    SOLON, THE GREAT ATHENIAN JURIST, once predicted that “justice will not come until those who are not hurt feel just as indignant as those who are.” Nowhere is that maxim more true than with respect to the immigrant. Foreign nationals, at least until they become citizens, occupy a necessarily compromised position in our community. They live and work among us. They are our friends, neighbors, colleagues, and fellow students and teachers. They pay taxes, provide expertise that we lack, often take jobs that others will not take, and contribute immeasurably to the diversity of our local and national communities. But...

    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. PART I: The Expansion of Immigration Enforcement:: Before 9/11

    • CHAPTER 2 Unchecked Power Against Undesirables Haitians, Mariel Cubans, and Guantánamo
      (pp. 29-43)
      MARK DOW

      IN THE EARLY POST–9/11 ARGUMENTS over Guantánamo prisoners, Vice President Dick Cheney said the military tribunal “guarantees that we’ll have the kind of treatment of these individuals that we believe they deserve.”¹ In other words, we have a sham process that cannot interfere with our doing what we want to do with these people. Cheney’s statement provided a pithy summary of the administration’s various policies aimed at loosening legal and moral restraints that might keep us from administering the deserved treatment, whether inside our borders, at our Cuban enclave, or in the estimated thirty-nine prisons around the world—in...

    • CHAPTER 3 Immigration, Terrorism, and Secret Prisons
      (pp. 44-62)

      LONG BEFORE THE TERRORIST ATTACKS of September 11, 2001, or the War on Terror or Camp X-ray or ghost detainees,¹ the United States began to create what amounted to a secret prison system within its own borders, a system that continues to exist and thrive today. If that assertion seems incongruous for a nation with traditions of transparency spanning more than two centuries, the assertion that follows is even more so. Some of those prisoners secretly detained for years have not been convicted of any crime. The words “secret prison” and “United States,” at least in the era before September...

    • CHAPTER 4 Democracy and Immigration
      (pp. 63-78)

      TODAY, ANTI-IMMIGRANT SENTIMENT in this country is on the ascent. Selfdescribed vigilante “minutemen” are stationed at the border. Congress has appropriated funds to begin building a wall along the Southern border. Cities are passing ordinances to prevent citizens from renting to or selling goods to undocumented persons.¹

      Anti-immigrant sentiment is not something new. Our history is replete with examples of bigotry and hatred directed toward those we call “aliens,” as if they were from another planet, or “illegals” as if a human being can be illegal. Whether it was legislation in the form of the national origin quota system barring...

  7. PART II: Noncitizens as Security Threats:: After 9/11

    • CHAPTER 5 Racializing, Criminalizing, and Silencing 9/11 Deportees
      (pp. 81-107)

      SINCE SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, the U.S. government has continued to arrest and deport immigrants predominantly from Muslim countries on the suspicion of terrorism.¹ The stories all follow a familiar pattern: the arrest of a Muslim or Muslim-looking individual,² sizzling news stories about the individual’s connection to al-Qaeda, and, months later, deportation on minor charges unrelated to terrorism. Deportation occurs quietly, in vivid contrast to the arrest. But even when the media does follow through on the stories, the deportees are described as lawbreakers, illegals, and suspected terrorists—not distinguishing among these terms. Weeks or months later, more headlines appear about...

    • CHAPTER 6 Presumption of Guilt September 11 and the American Muslim Community
      (pp. 108-137)

      IN THE MONTHS FOLLOWING SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft used his powers under section 412 of the USA PATRIOT Act¹ to round up and imprison over 1,200 Muslim and Arab men. At the time, the most disconcerting fact about these mass roundups was that the Justice Department refused to disclose the detainees’ identities, give them access to lawyers, or allow them to have contact with their families. In addition to this indiscriminate immigration dragnet, several high profile “terrorism” related cases further stigmatized the American Muslim community. All these cases were tried in the court of public opinion before...

    • CHAPTER 7 American and British Constructions of Asylum Seekers Moral Panic, Detention, and Human Rights
      (pp. 138-158)

      DETENTION, ESPECIALLY FOR LONG PERIODS, is among the gravest acts the state can take against individuals. The current practice of the governments of both the United States and the United Kingdom of detaining asylum seekers is a particularly serious matter and has drawn the attention of human rights organizations, since this clashes with the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The controversy has, however, taken different forms in these otherwise similar nations, most notably along lines of social constructionism and moral panic. While there is considerable public and po liti cal attention directed at asylum seeking in...

  8. PART III: From Incarceration to Deportation

    • CHAPTER 8 Exiling New Yorkers
      (pp. 161-178)

      THIS CHAPTER IS DRAWN FROM FIELD NOTES and interview data that I have collected since 2001 regarding the social process by which Dominicans are expelled from the United States and the hidden stories behind their removal, eventual resettlement, and sometimes illegal reentry into the United States. I am currently writing a book with my colleague, Luis Barrios, on the life histories of Dominican deportees in Santo Domingo and New York City, highlighting the narratives of settlement, incorporation, expulsion, and resistance. The names of the subjects have been changed, due to a pledge of confidentiality.

      During the recent past, the rate...

    • CHAPTER 9 Invisible Removal, Endless Detention, Limited Relief A Taste of Immigration Court Representation for Detained Noncitizens
      (pp. 179-203)

      WITH LIMITED OPPORTUNITIES to remain in the United States or be released on bond, noncitizens in removal or deportation proceedings in U.S. immigration courts are compelled to take removal orders. Within a structure of restricted legal relief, judges too are willing to stamp these orders. Not all noncitizens being deported are “illegal”—many are green card holders or lawful permanent residents (LPRs). Many have entered on valid visas, but those who have entered illegally may have lived in the United States for years and put down roots here. Many of the non-LPRs are arrested and detained for removal proceedings for...

    • CHAPTER 10 Why Black Immigrants Matter Refocusing the Discussion on Racism and Immigration Enforcement
      (pp. 204-238)

      SINCE SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, social justice activists and academics have emphasized how immigration enforcement has adversely affected South Asian, Arab, and Muslim immigrants.¹ Some have gone so far as to suggest that they are the primary targets of the Bush administration’s “war on terror.”² The recent political battle over illegal immigration, ushered in by various congressional bills, has also kept the discussion of immigrants’ rights in the spotlight. While some activists have pointed out that antiimmigrant legislation proposals will adversely affect all immigrants, it is generally understood that debates about illegal immigration are really about Latinos, and specifically Mexicans. Taken...

  9. PART IV: Inside the Immigration Prison System:: Activist Perspectives

    • CHAPTER 11 Rafiu’s Story An American Immigrant Nightmare
      (pp. 241-257)

      IT SEEMS IRONIC THAT THE PERCEIVED BEAUTY of the American Dream is that it allows freedom and opportunity to all. The American Dream supports the belief that through hard work and determination, any immigrant can achieve a better life, usually in terms of financial prosperity and enhanced freedom of choice. The concept is that anybody can get a share of the country’s wealth if he or she is willing to work hard. It sounds good, but really what America does is it decides who is going to be allowed the freedom and opportunity to live the American Dream.

      First of...

    • CHAPTER 12 Families for Freedom Against Deportation and Delegalization
      (pp. 258-288)

      AMERICA HAS MANY WORLDS, and the gap between two of them—between that of citizens and noncitizens—is deepening. Today, the United States is witnessing a major shift in the contours of membership, inequality, and control through the policing of noncitizens living on U.S. soil. We call this emerging system of inequality and punishment Immigrant Apartheid.

      Immigrant Apartheid is a set of institutional and political processes leading to the creation of separate social, political, and economic spaces for citizens and noncitizens, derived from distinctions based on formal status. While the term apartheid typically has not been used to describe race...

  10. PART V: Looking for “Illegals”

    • CHAPTER 13 Bordering the Other in the U.S. Southwest El Pasoans Confront the Local Sheriff
      (pp. 291-313)

      THE U.S.–MEXICO BORDER has become a central focus in the recent immigration debates. Four southwestern states—California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas—once part of northern Mexico, have strong stakes in the outcomes of these debates. This chapter will focus on the immigration policy discourse and activism that has recently emerged in these states, with a special emphasis on Texas. This region is home to a large and growing Mexican heritage population, including citizens, permanent residents, and undocumented people. The border regions of these states are the site of numerous, interwoven political, economic, and cultural conflicts. These are also...

    • CHAPTER 14 Framing the Debate on Taxes and Undocumented Workers A Critical Review of Texts Supporting Proenforcement Policies and Practices
      (pp. 314-333)

      DURING THE PAST THREE DECADES, a combination of restrictive immigration policies and expanding migratory pressures has produced a rapid growth in the population of undocumented immigrants in the United States, which the latest Pew Hispanic Center reported as reaching 12 million as of March 2004.¹

      A question that was hotly debated during the 1990s and remains a topic of academic and public interest is that of whether undocumented immigrants cover the cost of the public services they use, be they schools, welfare, or health care. Media and public-opinion reports as well as scholarly literature on the costs/benefits of undocumented immigration...

    • CHAPTER 15 What Does an Undocumented Immigrant Look Like? Local Enforcement and the New Immigrant Profiling
      (pp. 334-364)

      Alongside the national debate over immigration reform has emerged a relatively new debate over the role that local governments should play in enforcing federal immigration laws. A staple feature of all these local-enforcement proposals are screening practices that allow law enforcement officers, other government workers, and some private citizens to identify and detain undocumented migrants.

      Local enforcement is undeniably controversial³ but it is also, in some respects, peripheral to the trends that are defining immigration enforcement at the national level. Some variant of local enforcement has been adopted by police...

  11. CONCLUSION: Immigration Reform at a Crossroads
    (pp. 365-374)

    WHEN THE DEMOCRATS WON THE MAJORITY in the House and Senate in the 2005 midterm elections, there was some anticipation that things would finally begin to move on the question of immigration reform. Two years later, however, it became apparent that the Democrats were just as concerned as the Republicans about being the party to usher in a very unpopular immigration reform bill. At the time of this writing, the most recent immigration reform proposal was Senate bill 1639, which received a fair measure of bipartisan support (most notably from Senator Ted Kennedy and President George W. Bush), but not...

  12. APPENDIX: An Annotated List of Immigration Laws
    (pp. 375-380)
    (pp. 381-386)
    (pp. 387-392)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 393-410)