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Susanne Jonas

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Reflections on the Great Immigration Battle of 2006 and the Future of the Americas

This article begins to assess the magnitude and outlines of some possible future reverberations of the great immigration battle of 2006, in which millions of demonstrators, primarily but not exclusively Latinos, marched in dozens of cities and communities throughout the U.S. in response to proposed federal legislation that would criminalize as aggravated felons and deport the 10 to 12 million undocumented immigrants currently living and working here. Jonas details a decade of unprecedented abuse and punishment of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, in the form of immigration, welfare, and anti-terrorism legislation that have created a national security regime for immigrants. Despite actions of all three branches of government that have constrained the rights and paths toward citizenship for immigrants, and a general xenophobic mood issuing from the media and restrictionist academics, the public is divided on the issue. Jonas argues that it is necessary to adopt a regional (hemispheric) framework, in which the U.S. is seen as the northern zone of the Americas. Thus, incorporation of Latino migrants through legalization would be a much more realistic and stabilizing approach than the exclusionary, nativist, racializing rejections that maintain their undocumented status and then blame them for being undocumented.

immigration, immigrant rights movement, social movements, H.R. 4437, criminalization, guest worker program, militarization of the border

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 33, No. 1 (2006): 6-20