Please join us for a colloquium being given by Asad L. Asad from Cornell University.
System Embeddedness and Immigrants’ Perceived Risk of Deportation
Drawing on multi-year interviews with Hispanic-origin immigrants in Dallas, Texas, I examine diversity in how immigrants holding a range of legal statuses perceive and respond to the risk of deportation. Although many undocumented immigrants understand themselves to be among the most vulnerable to deportation by virtue of their precarious legal status, not all do. Meanwhile, despite the relative stability their legal status affords them in American society, documented immigrants of various designations describe sometimes-paralyzing fears of deportation. I develop the concept of “system embeddedness,” whereby inclusion in the formal records of the U.S. immigration regime represents a source of risk, to explain these seemingly-idiosyncratic perspectives. These findings suggest that the effects of the contemporary system of American immigration law and enforcement are more pervasive than previously thought, converging to punish both undocumented and documented immigrants, with implications for the social control of noncitizens and citizens.