Lynch Law, Migration Control, & the Regulation of Racial Meaning

Thursday, Oct 20, 2016 - Thursday, Oct 20, 2016 | 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

691 Barrows Hall


The CRG Thursday Forum Series presents…

Lynch Law, Migration Control, the Regulation of Racial Meaning

Litigating Unwritten Law: reading Sam Hose’s brutal murder, white newspaper opinion, and Ida Wells’ anti-lynching campaign as legal discourse and recourse
Kavitha Iyengar, Jurisprudence and Social Policy
More info soon…
Race, Discretion, and Summary Deportation at the US-Mexico Border: An Examination of Voluntary Return, Past and Present
Mina Barahimi, Jurisprudence and Social Policy
In recent years, an emerging strand in the legal scholarship has problematized the growing use of “speed deportations” (Wadhia 2014), a term used to describe a number of programs that replace the role of judges with administrative immigration officers, enabling them to issue deportation orders at their own discretion and without the procedural due process protections that are normally attendant with being subject to deportation by a judge. Although streamlined expulsion procedures have only recently received critical interest from scholars, they have arguably constituted an important part of the U.S. deportation regime since the early 20th century in the form of a practice known as administrative voluntary departure (“voluntary return”). Unlike the programs described above, voluntary return is not legally constructed as “deportation.” Instead it is viewed by the government as a beneficent alternative to deportation that an officer can, in his discretion, offer an undocumented immigrant so he can depart the country “voluntarily” without a hearing before an immigration judge and thereby ostensibly avoid the stigma and consequences of being formally deported. It has therefore been treated by scholars as a liminal deportation category and has largely escaped critical examination. Nevertheless, historically the vast majority of persons who have departed the country as a result of state action have done so via voluntary return—not deportation—and most have been Mexican nationals in the southwest expelled by Border Patrol officers. In this presentation, I argue that voluntary return constitutes a major and largely hidden regime of state control against Mexican immigrants in the border region. I first provide a secondary historical analysis of US immigration law enforcement through the lens of voluntary return, showing the practice as a central part of the broader regime of discretionary administrative policing that has helped construct Mexican immigrants as transient, temporary, and ultimately unsuitable for membership in the U.S. polity. I then present some findings from a qualitative case study of the contemporary practice of voluntary return in San Diego, California, drawing parallels between the past and present practice of voluntary return to provide a broader and more nuanced perspective of the practice that has been offered heretofore.
Mina Barahimi is a Ph.D. candidate in the Jurisprudence and Social Policy program. Her research interests are broadly in the socio-legal dimensions of immigrant/immigration control, with a focus on issues related to citizenship, race, rights, social exclusion, immigration law enforcement, and the criminalization of immigration. Her dissertation examines (1) how the discretion of US Border Patrol officers shapes the practice of voluntary return, a summary (i.e. no due process) expulsion procedure implemented in the US-Mexico border region against undocumented Mexican immigrants, and (2) what the effects of that discretionary practice are on the border community.

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