Adventures of a Forced Migrant Contact Me
Anti-immigration strategists call for tough enforcement policies, which have only exacerbated the phenomena of mixed-status families as undocumented immigrants stay in this country and raise children here rather than risk leaving and facing a 10-year ban. If not for this ban, I would not be living in the shadows of American society today.
Illegal immigration does not take place in a vacuum — it is inextricably tied to the search for cheap labor, the mirage of an American dream, and enforcement efforts combined with an outdated system of antiquated quotas and categories. The barriers to solutions will only multiply when we ignore these inconvenient truths.
I took the opportunity to rail against the 10-year ban rather than talk for the DREAM Act–I think Hiroshi covered that angle quite well.
I fail to fathom why my family came here, hence I cannot really provide a personal narrative that seems appealing. Maybe it was a combination of losing faith in the Fijian government, my Dad losing his job, my mom yearning for her family and my sister–who was already studying in the United States–wanting her family with her. No one thought about me. No one thinks about me. I am just supposed to go to school, earn as many degrees as I can and stay out of trouble (and this is when I can afford school). That is my ‘job.’ It may be a mess created by my parents choices like Mark Krikorian states, but are they really to be blamed for being attracted to the false idea of the American dream? Armed with very little intellectual capital, they tried their best to do things legally. They had no idea that the 10-year visa backlog would age me out. How could they? Even the average American is clueless about immigration laws, let alone the little nuances in them.
Tamar Jacoby certainly does a good job of fleshing out what we have here, regardless of the socially constructed categories of legal and illegal:
But the article is also a tale of incredible stupidity on the part of the United States. A father realizes he has an unusually gifted daughter and sacrifices everything to bring her to America. She grasps early on that she’s a star and defies the rules to prove it. The family stays together against all odds so she can realize her potential. What a boon for the U.S. — or so you’d think. But then we thumb our nose at all this striving and sacrifice, blocking the young woman cold and throwing away what she could contribute over her lifetime.
Imagine how this story would look in historical perspective. What if classical Rome had behaved as we’re behaving? “Talented people from all over the known world were attracted to the great civilization and traveled there, hoping to share their gifts. But the rulers declined their services, barring them from even minimal participation, trashing their innovations and turning away their talents.”
You’d say that great power deserved to fail — and you’d be right. What a colossal waste.
A waste indeed.
Since this site is called ‘No Borders and Binaries,’ lets revisit the philosophy behind that term. The creation of a bordered world is a deliberate attempt to divide, contain and isolate communities, to forget about arbitrary and ‘disorderly’ origins, in order to create a ‘more ordered, more secure world’–an impossible goal. See the case of Derby Line in Vermont below.
The border fence between Canada and America in Derby Line, Vermont is spreading hatred and discontent among residents. The United Press International reports:
Derby Line, which has a shared library with the neighboring Canadian community of Stanstead, has had lettering painted on three side streets: “Canada” on one side, “U.S.A.” on the other. Then came an influx of U.S. Border Patrol agents who chased motorists who ignored signs telling drivers to use official entry points.
The Washington Post (NYSE:WPO) reported Sunday that there was a proposal last year to erect fences on the town’s small streets to officially barricade the United States from Canada.
“They’re stirring up a little hate and discontent with that deal,” said Claire Currier, who grew up in the border area. “It’s like putting up a barrier. We’ve all intermingled for years.”
See NPR for more coverage of this issue.
The residents are told that it is a matter of national security, that our borders are porous, that terrorists could enter the border through these unsecured places. It doesn’t seem to matter that the people living in harmony across the border, intermingling often, don’t like the idea of a fence that would create barriers amongst them, deny them access to golf clubs, libraries, shopping malls and other activities they share together. And then there are those that think that Vermont should belong to Canada.
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“…furthermore there is no separation between people. Everything is interconnected and the biggest secret of all to me, is the extent to which individuality is an illusion…”
That is an integral philosophy of this site but this time quantam mechanics are the ones confirming it through “pure, hard science.”
black/white, straight/gay, women/men, left/right, us/them, American/Un-American, nativist/humanist, legal/illegal, liberal/conservative anti-corporate/anti-labor, capitalism/communist, butch/femme, inside/outside, developed/undeveloped, top/bottom, public/private…
Our world is tainted in simplistic, dualistic undertones since we are young and we grow up conditioned to think in this manner. It starts from the household where pink is for girls and blue is for boys going all the way to the President where you are either with him or against him and there is no middle ground, no space to negotiate and intervene.
This blog is a reflection of my personal and political philosophy. I am not concerned with whether anyone subscribes to it or not; for me, it is about building a space without the pervasive duality and dichotomy of everyday discourses. And if that space is only occupied by the presence of few, that is fine with me as well. The point is to make ruptures and disruptions in these hegemonic continuous, cyclical modes of thinking.
The intellectual work that tested my limits was Saba Mahmood’s Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject.
Saba Mahmood rejects secular liberal feminist theory and practices that cast religion (in this case, Islam), as opposed to the interests of women. Through her particular field study of the grassroots women’s piety movements in the mosques of Cairo between 1995 and 1997, Mahmood aims to provide a stark contrast to the often secular liberal depictions of women’s movements. In doing so, she questions the age-old ethnocentric notions of secular liberal feminism that requires feminism and women’s movements to be framed as opposed to structures of patriarchy and power i.e. religion and going a step further, the nation-state project. Mahmood does away with these notions of ethical norms, agency and freedom, thereby posing conceptual problems for secular feminists who would otherwise continue to push for the liberation of women from Islam and actual structures of power in order to achieve their warped-up notions of liberal emancipation of women.
I wrestled for days with this book. Essentially Mahmood was saying that feminism and being political need not denote the emancipation of women from patriarchal structures like religion and the nation-state. Women do not have to completely reject structures of power to actually carve a space and voice for themselves, and thereby work towards transforming it as the women in the piety movement carved spaces for themselves within a traditionally male sphere. I finally realized that juxtaposing Mahmood’s text with secular liberal feminism need not mean that I had to choose or submit to one. I did not and neither do you. Sometimes the questions are more enlightening than the answers to them.
So when I read comments like “how can you be anti-corporate and still pro-exploitation of cheap labor from the Third World?” it is immediately marked as spam. Maybe I should take the time to respond, to expose conditioned minds to different ways of thinking about issues, to bury the either/or in an intellectual manner. Then again, the title of the blog should be clue enough — I do not do either/or and will not submit to that discourse.
You do not need to choose between being pro-amnesty and pro-American. You need not choose between an “illegal alien” and a U.S. citizen. And you definitely do not have to be pro-migrant or anti-migrant. Focus on the becoming, not the being.
When I speak about bridges, I am referring to a metaphor for fluidity, change, channeling, multiple levels of positioning that culminate into a meeting point. I am not speak of ONE compromise or middle point–I am comfortable with no resolutions. Call it folly or postmodern emancipation. I am comfortable in-limbo; after all, that is my conditioning, no?
I realize I am flawed — There are certain categories I hold dear that I did not choose for myself. At times my patience is tested and I do slip up with the anti-_______. And I will not offer love or compassion to those who hate me because of some category, label, classification, documentation, physical feature, or preference. No, I am not a Gandhi or MLK and do not wish to go down that path. It is a tit for tat when it comes to me. But I will agree to disagree heartedly.
It appears that most things don’t happen in a STRAIGHT line (neither do brain waves and heart beats FYI).
After my constant repetition of “undocumented or illegal is not a permanent immutable characteristic” this past week, the Public Policy Institute of California has just confirmed the accuracy of the statement.
In a new study based on a survery of 8000 people, the PPIC found that 52% of Californians had past experience of living in the country illegally at one time or another. It absolutely smashes the ill-promoted dichotomy of legal/illegal, proving that binary modes of thinking about immigration policy are superficial, baseless and untrue.
The ALIPACers are seething. They cannot believe that the lines between legal and illegal can be blurred. After all, we are talking about black and white, engraved-in-stone distinctions, right? You can see the obvious physical, emotional, spritual, intellectual and personality differences between a legal and illegal migrant, right? Some have even gone as far as to say that “if they are going to break simple immigration laws, they will break other laws.” Yes, because if you run a traffic light or drive above the speed limit, it immediately makes you more likely to commit felonies, right? Believe it or not, there is such a thing as “ex-illegals.”
|Re-read Plyler v. Doe – The Supreme Court had it right in 1982: The “illegals” of today can become the legal residents of tomorrow. If 26 year old legal opinion can get it right, why can’t the fear-mongering, immigrant-loathing bashers? And based on this study as empirical evidence, immigrant-loathing is an accurate assessment of ALIPAC since it does demonstrate that undocumented migrants work to become legal residents and citizens. Still, the “blood is boiling” over at ALIPAC.
No human being can be Illegal. It is not a noun, not a permanent category or classification that reflects the true character of a migrant body. Fluid and subject to change, unauthorized stay can translate into authorized permanent stay in the form of citizenship.