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Susanne Jonas and Catherine Tactaquin

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Latino Immigrant Rights in the Shadow of the National Security State: Responses to Domestic Preemptive Strikes

Jonas and Tactaquin cover the history of anti-immigrant measures since the mid-1990s and the brief “political opening” for legalization just before September 11, 2001; the effects of September 11 on immigrant rights — hence the title, “in the shadow of the national security state.” The article emphasizes the effects of the “Patriot” Act(s) and associated legislation for Latinos, although several other immigrant/non-citizen communities (Arabs, South Asians) were much more heavily affected. Once the government begins to strip away the rights of the most vulnerable (Arab and Arab-American communities), the “spillover” effect is very rapid and dangerous for all immigrants and other noncitizens — and eventually for U.S. citizens as well; defensive and proactive immigrant rights organizing and legalization strategies within the “spaces” that still exist, from the viewpoint of immigrants themselves; longer-range prospects for issues of immigrant rights, legalization, and citizenship. The authors argue that however bleak their prospects – now and for the immediate future — immigrant rights, legalization, and citizenship are issues that will not disappear. They will remain on the national and hemispheric agendas for reasons having to do with immigrant organizing (“agency”), long-range structural considerations in the Americas, and the gradual construction of “international immigrant rights regimes”; finally, the long-range implications of immigrant rights issues for U.S. society and democracy; in this context, the authors suggest directions for reconceptualizing full citizenship (including the problem of second-class citizenship) that might guide research and organizing during this difficult and fundamentally anti-immigrant period.

INS (currently the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE), immigration policy, state repression, PATRIOT Act, citizenship

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 31, Nos. 1-2 (2004): 67-91