Critical Race Theory

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Link – Immigration

Militarization of communities silence targeted groups and contest their identities

Sabo et. al. (Samantha, Susan Shaw, Maia Ingram, Nicolette Teurel-Shone, Scott Carvajal, Jill Guernsey de Zapien, Cecilia Rosales, Flor Redondo, Gina Garcia, Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith Director of Transborder Initiatives University of Arizona, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, Arizona Prevention Research Center, United States “Everyday violence, structural racism and mistreatment at the US-Mexico border” , cayla_)

This study aimed to document the prevalence of and ways in which US citizen and permanent residents of Mexican descent experience immigration policy and militarization of the Arizona border region. The concept of everyday violence, or violence that is normalized by marginalized groups, is situated at the ‘capillary level’ and focuses on the daily micro-level interactions that directly and indirectly impose violence on individuals (Scheper-Hughes, 2004, p. 276). Such violence can render structural racism, defined by Krieger et al. (1993, p. 938) as ‘the exploitive and oppressive social relationships that simultaneously define racial/ethnic groups and cause a system of inequalities that become embodied as racial/ ethnic health inequities,’ invisible to its victims (Bourgois, 2009; Quesada et al., 2011). In essence, everyday violence on the USe Mexico border is the observable and violent manifestation ofstructural racism and is the space where the arm of the state directly confronts the oppressed. Specifically, we are concerned with how militarized zones of the Arizona border are experienced and normalized by US citizen and permanent residents of Mexican descent. We define militarization as the saturation of and pervasive encounters with immigration officials including local police enacting immigration and border enforcement policy with military style tactics and weapons (Dunn, 1996). Within militarized zones, encounters with officials can occur in public and private spaces in the form of formal and informal checkpoints, discretionary identity inspection, and arbitrary abuse and detention (Duschinski, 2009; Goldsmith et al., 2009). Research has shown that militarization of communities contributes to a collective experience of being under siege (Bourgois, 2004; Dunn, 2009; Duschinski, 2009) in which targeted groups endure contestation of their own identity and citizenship (Romero and Serag, 2004; Russell-Brown, 2004; Weitzer and Tuch, 2002). Such ‘identity encounters’ and the associated arbitrary consequences serve to compound targeted groups’ suspicion and distrust of state institutions and authority (Duschinski, 2009; Warner, 2006). Targeted groups often strategically use silence and minimization of victimization as coping strategies for self-preservation (Green, 1994). Chronic suppression of traumatic events may be internalized and manifest as stress, anxiety and increased risk for debilitating mental and physical health conditions (G.C. Gee et al., 2012; Thoits, 2010). Fear of reprisal, criminalization, and lack of pathways for resistance to human rights violations have also been shown to be detrimental to health (Green, 1994; Vargas, 2001; Warner, 2006). While the everyday violence of structural racism inherent in many immigration and border enforcement policies have historically plagued Mexican origin residents of the borderlands (Orrenius, 2004), their felt effects may have been particularly palpable during the time of this research, 2006e2008. Between these years, Arizona enacted restrictive immigration law related to education, employment, identification, law enforcement, and language (Green, 2011; Goldsmith and Romero, 2008). Simultaneous increases in capital and human resources to the Office of Homeland Security in form of US border patrol agents and National Guard, border fencing and technology transformed Arizona border communities into highly militarized environments (Goldsmith and Romero, 2008). Locally, anti-immigrant militia groups were also present in most rural Arizona border communities, while the pressure for local law enforcement to assume federal immigration law enforcement responsibilities was also mounting (Goldsmith and Romero, 2008). Thus, during the time of this study, residents were operating within a particularly anti-immigrant political landscape, one that was highly focused on restricting access to public services paralleled by an unprecedented accumulation of state and federal resources for ArizonaeMexico border security (McNicoll, 2012; Rodriguez and Padilla, 2010; E.A. Viruell-Fuentes et al., 2012). Emerging evidence has demonstrated an inverse relationship between restrictive or punitive immigration policies and major social determinants of health, specifically in access to health and social services, education opportunities, and adequate employment remuneration (Acevedo-Garcia et al., 2012; Hacker et al., 2011; Edna A. Viruell-Fuentes, 2011). Immigration health scholars have also begun to examine how an anti-immigrant climate has the potential to increase levels of discrimination, fear, stress, and illness among immigrant populations (Carvajal et al., 2012; Gilbert C. Gee, 2011; Hardy et al., 2012; E. A. Viruell-Fuentes, 2007). Most recently, anti-immigrant policies have been argued to produce the conflation of ethnicity and immigration status at both interpersonal and institutional levels, thus creating a hostile environment for entire ethnic groups, regardless of immigration status (Viruell-Fuentes et al., 2012). According to Viruell-Fuentes et al. (2012) ‘.all Latinos [in the US] are perceived as Mexican, all Mexicans are seen as immigrants, and they in turn are all cast as undocumented’. Mexican origin immigrants and their non-immigrant co-ethnics of the Arizona borderlands experience day-to-day ethnic and immigration related discrimination, stress, limited mobility, and fear of accessing health and social services (Acevedo-Garcia et al., 2012; Carvajal et al., 2012; Dreby, 2010). Specifically, institutionalized ethno-racial profiling in immigration and local law enforcement, or the sanctioned use of ‘Mexicanness’ or ‘Mexican appearance’ as probable cause for citizen inspection, has been documented among Mexican US citizen and permanent residents since 1994 (Goldsmith et al., 2009; R. Koulish et al., 1994). As immigration reform emerges as a highly salient political issue for both political parties, and border security remains at the core of immigration reform debates, it is imperative that scholars advance the understanding of the public health impact of such enforcement policies on the daily lives of Mexican-origin US permanent residents, and their nonimmigrant US citizen co-ethnics.

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