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Jose Palafox

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Opening Up Borderland Studies: A Review of U.S.-Mexico Border Militarization Discourse

On May 20, 1997, Clemente Bañuelos, a US Marine on an antidrug operation, shot and killed 18-year-old Esequiel Hernández, Jr., in Redford, Texas. Bañuelos was a member of Joint Task Force-6 (JTF-6), a federal agency that coordinates antinarcotics operations between the Border Patrol and the military. The tragedy in Redford was just one example of the “militarization” of the US-Mexico border, a project that began in earnest under President Ronald Reagan and picked up pace under the Clinton administration. To understand the more general militarization of American society, it is imperative to examine the build-up on the border. This article provides a brief overview of the main theoretical and cultural critiques of border militarization. The aim is to encourage writers and activists to examine the many ways in which US-Mexico boundary enforcement and state repression affect the human rights of migrants.

immigration, borderlands; United States — immigration and naturalization service; immigrants — Mexican — United States; racism

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 27, No. 3 (2000): 56-72