This chapter focuses on categorization by the U.S. state, emphasizing how U.S. immigration policies and practices create a form of contingent citizenship—a concept that, while applicable to all transnational Mexicans, is particularly evident among the youngest of migrants, those with or without documents. The experiences of young people underscore spatial and symbolic shifts in understandings of national belonging and exclusion among individuals within undocumented immigrant families or families of mixed U.S. legal status. Indeed, through the construction of “aliens” and “citizens,” the state creates shifting or contingent citizenship for children within transnational mixed-status families. Moreover, the physical movement and geographic and symbolic locations of children reveal the instability of citizenship itself.
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