The nation in a heated debate over immigration policies and the relocations of thousands of Syrian refugees. In the lively bookstore, Politics & Prose, the debate continues amid demonstrations at the White House gates. Today, author Tanya Golash-Boza introduced her new book “Deported: Policiing Immigrants, Disposable Labors and Global Capitalism.”
Following Golash-Boza’s previous book, “Immigration Nation”, which covers the policies involved in immigration, “Deported” develops a human rights perspective from interviews with 147 deportees. From these interviews many factors are thrown into the debate: commercial restructuring of communities, neoliberal reforms, and the unequal criminalization of people of color.
So over the past few decades, trade agreements have facilitated the movement of capital across borders. And these trade agreements have not facilitated the movement of workers across borders. –Tanya Golash-Boza
“Eric’s story allows us to consider the connections between individual migration stories and larger economic trends, such as outsourcing, economic restructuring, cutbacks in social services, the enhancement of police and the privatization of public services,” says Golash-Boza. Eric’s story began with his mother migrating to America for better wages in order to provide a better life for Eric. The story details many disadvantages of migrant workers, including lack of benefits, longer hours, lower wages than American citizens. Golash-Boza says, “As an undocumented worker, Eric’s mother was less likely to challenge her low pay and lack of benefits.”
“Deported” delves into the capitalization of deportations and the U.S. prison system. Golash-Boza says, “Once arrested, Eric was placed in a private prison, and privatization of public services is another key economic trend, as is the profitability of prisons. So over the past few decades, trade agreements have facilitated the movement of capital across borders. And these trade agreements have not facilitated the movement of workers across borders.”
Eric was able to gain work in Guatemala, where he was deported to from the United States. However, his wage is not enough to bring his wife and children to Guatemala. The American corporation that operates the call center in Guatemala where Eric works is able to keep a steady supply of low wage workers deported from privatized prisons. The company is able to obtain low-wage bilingual workers, familiar with American geography, products and lifestyles. This gives Eric priority at hiring, but the American company will close U.S. operations, paying $400 a month to a deported immigrant to secure larger profits.
“The heavy policing of poor neighborhoods predominated by people of color made it much more likely that Eric would be arrested, even though he had in fact not committed a crime,” says Golash-Boza. These stories explore the bias and racism of mass deportations in the United States. The Secure Communities Act from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was repeated throughout the presentation as a condemning policy that allows racial profiling of people of color.
We have this vast apparatus of laws and regulations and policies that most people know nothing about. –Linda Rabben
According to the ICE website, the Secure Communities Act, replaced by the Priority Enforcement Program in July, states that “Secure Communities was designed to reduce the potential for racial profiling. Under Secure Communities, the fingerprints of every single individual arrested and booked into custody, including U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, are checked against immigration records – reducing the risk of discrimination or racial profiling.”
There are American citizens who believe more immigration reform is necessary. The process for accepting immigrants, especially refugees is strenuous. Several Americans are worried that terrorists will slip through cracks in the refugee resettlement program and that there are no controls in place. Associate Professor at University of Maryland, Linda Rabben, says, “Immigration is already controlled in the United States. We have this vast apparatus of laws and regulations and policies that most people know nothing about.”
Numerous Americans are responding to televised media coverage of recent terror attacks, crime and policies and opinions, from opinionated pundits to candidates running for president. Rabben says, “And if you rely on what the media tells you, then you’re going to get a very distorted picture of how the system works.”