On February 9, 2017, Guadalupe García de Rayos, a mother of two who had been living in the United States for over twenty years, checked in with her immigration officer – as she had been asked to do every year – and was arrested, detained, and quickly deported to Mexico. The comments sections of articles covering this story provide a snapshot of some of the claims made by those who defend deportation as a practice: if you aren’t here legally, you have no right to stay; laws must be enforced; officers of the law are right to use the full extent of their power to punish infractions. If you’ve done something forbidden by law, the argument goes, you deserve whatever the state does to you next.
This argument circulates so widely, I imagine, because it sounds more disinterestedly moral than more overtly racialized attacks on immigrants' bodies and livelihoods. It allows us to say, "It's not about race or ethnicity. It's about obeying the law." But despite its common-sense appearance, this argument very quickly folds under analytical pressure.Read More