For many, the punitive turn in immigration stems from the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Although 9/11 linked immigration and national security, this link occurred more in the national imagination than in practice. The day-to-day operations of Border Patrol agents do not involve intercepting terrorists or chemical weapons, nor are border agents apprehending migrants from countries on the “state sponsors of terrorism” or “terrorist safe haven” lists. Despite the rhetorical conflation of immigration with terrorism and national security, what border enforcement looks like in practice is little more than domestic crime control extended to an immigration context. The introductory chapter recounts over a decade of historical and ethnographic research on this new blend of immigration and crime control that began well before the events of September 11.
Keywords: ethnography, Department of Homeland Security, immigration enforcement, border security, crimmigration, criminalization, mass incarceration, Criminal Alien Program, Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), 9/11
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