Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Immigrant Rights

"In another large-scale workplace immigration crackdown, federal officials raided a factory here on Monday, detaining at least 350 workers they said were in the country illegally. Numerous agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement descended on a factory belonging to Howard Industries Inc., which manufactures electrical transformers, among other products. As of late Monday afternoon, no criminal charges had been filed, said Barbara Gonzalez, an agency spokeswoman, but she said that dozens of workers had been "identified, fingerprinted, interviewed, photographed and processed for removal from the U.S." The raid follows a similar large-scale immigration operation at a meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, in May when nearly 400 workers were detained. That raid was a significant escalation of the Bush administration's enforcement practices because those detained were not simply deported, as in previous raids, but were imprisoned for months on criminal charges of using false documents."

So here's the thing about situations such as these: the laws governing the naturalization process are entirely too strict and the costs involved are so exorbitant that there really is no practical way to go about obtaining legal documents for a lot of people. What happens then is a sort of never ending cycle, the immigrants have to get money to pay for their naturalization thus risking the chance of being arrested in one of these raids. Plus, the matter is only worsened when you consider the inhumane treatment of immigrants in detention and their exclusion from the rights that should protect them, not to mention the families they leave behind who are dependent on their income. What's more, when we allow the repetition of such acts (raids, imprisonment), we are essentially enabling a ritualized production of what it means to be an undocumented immigrant. You make a border real by policing it.

Also, as a side note, why is it that some people are immigrants and others are expatriates? And does it make a difference in our perceptions?

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