Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Challenging State Power

Peter Andreas wrote a book entitled "border games" in which he describes some of the symbolic aspects of enforcing immigration policy. He goes on to say that those who wish to have the border dissolved underestimate the importance of deploying symbolic resources that establish state legitimacy. Peter wrote this book in the late 90's, a time of growing militarization and increasing economic pressure to migrate. The astronomical escalation of resources devoted to enforcing the harsh immigration policies following closely after NAFTA has more than doubled the budget and personnel since Peter wrote his book. The dramatic increases of migrant deaths in Arizona's Southern deserts is a result of border barracading and militarization around urban regions in the hopes that the hostile desert environment would be a passive deterrent, they were wrong. In just this year more than 80 deaths have occured as a result of these policies. That is an increase in three times the rate of last year. These deaths are also a symbolic representation of the way that immigration policy regards the migrants who support the domestic U.S. economy at its very foundation. The deaths of migrants in the desert represent the utter lack of respect for human rights; it is also important to recognize that labor rights are human rights. In this way, the symbolism of state legitimacy includes the hypocracy of legislation that is both pro-immigration and anti-immigrant and inhumane in the treatment of migrants. The policy is essentially a strategy that treats migrants as labor inputs. The defacto effect of immigration policy has been the maintenance of a large pool of cheap labor ready upon demand for exploitation in the "post-industrial" U.S. economy. If the U.S. is to ameliorate its symbolic legitimacy, then the border militarization must be stopped, legalization available for migrant workers, and real economic development for migrant sending countries. It is appaulingly apparent that current strategies of development through globalization are wholely inadequate as formal means of improving the quality of life of people equally.
In response to these horrific symbols of inhumane state power, we of the No More Deaths Coalition have chosen to deploy our own symbolic resources to demonstrate the humanity of migrating people, respect for thier rights and contributions to the U.S. economy, while calling attention to the dire need for legislative reform in immigration and economic policy. The No More Deaths Migrant Trail Walk for Life is a symbolic gesture deployed by people who are tired of unfair policies that force out our migrating brothers and sisters into situations of exploitation and even death. The Migrant Trail Walk for Life is a statement of resistance and a proclomation of hope. State symbols of power and legitimacy that result in the death of innocent people constitute a neeed to challenge that system.
Too many people have died. Policies are not benefiting enough people. The potential benefits of broadening legal immigration have been muddled by the wave of misinformation from racist anti-immigrant groups.
This movement is in part a reflection of the unequal process of globalization created by the simulaneous loosening of regulations on financial capital flows and restricting labor flows. Clandestine labor mobility has become a common response by the most disenfranchised of underdeveloped nations. Violating human rights in an effort to control sources of cheap labor is a long and vile tradition. A tradition in which people have always resisted by creating ne symbolic meansings to the official and legitimate structures that oppress them. In this sense, the No More Deaths Migrant Trail Walk for Life is creating a more legitimate meaning of the border through an adherance to dignity, justice, and human rights by transforming the border from an anonimous monument to security and the rule of law to a memorial to the casualties of an economic and political order of inequality. Creating new meanings for the border is an essential method of progressive change and establishing an ethical interpretation of legislative reform.


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