Publications and Ideas

Fenced In: How the Border Circumscribes Public Talk about Migration in the United States

Julie Chinitz examines the figurative and literal emphasis on border enforcement and the effects on the underlying policies of the immigration reform bill before the US Senate.

The “Gang of Eight” introduced its much- anticipated comprehensive immigration reform bill. They named it the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013,”v ensuring that any mention of the bill’s formal title would begin and end with the border.

The emphasis on the border, both explicit and implicit, is not limited to the bill’s title. In the legislation’s findings section, the drafters identify their primary goals as “securing the sovereignty of the United States of America and establishing a coherent and just system for integrating those who seek to join American society.”vi Although the drafters do not define sovereignty or discuss it in any other section of the 844-page bill, by speaking of “securing” sovereignty they are invoking the border, not in terms of place, but in terms of what the public expects the border to do: to exclude.

Read the full text here: Fenced In 050913

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