Reading Between the Lines: Need to Know’s “Crossing the Line” Suggests a Reexamination of the Border Patrol’s Culture – Rachel Stonecipher
In 2012, a series of PBS investigations into Border Patrol abuses corroborated years of humanitarian volunteers’ reports, finding that the agency’s institutional culture cultivates a climate of medical neglect – and sometimes outright harm – toward migrant detainees. In July 2012, the PBS show Need to Know aired the second installment of its U.S.-Mexico border series “Crossing the Line,” an investigation into abuses of migrants in Border Patrol custody. The program reported that agents in the Tucson Sector, the busiest of nine regional divisions of the Border Patrol on the U.S.-Mexico border, have been accused of thousands of physical, verbal, and sexual abuses against migrants who are usually deported before they can report the crimes. “Crossing the Line, part 2” focused on the problem of poor treatment during detention, while Part I addressed agents’ excessive use of force. In light of my own research with humanitarian volunteers, the two programs prove the frequency and injuriousness of abuse. Although PBS stops short of claiming that the Border Patrol’s “war on illegal immigration” actually promotes harm against migrants, to some volunteers’ dismay (including my own), “Crossing the Line” effectively conveys that abuse is an institutional problem that takes direct and indirect forms – including impunity.
Since 2004, the humanitarian organization No More Deaths’ (NMD) desert aid project has maintained a camp in Arivaca, Arizona, where volunteers provide water, food, and medical care to migrants and hike to “drop” points to leave the same. For over five years its volunteers have also recorded Border Patrol abuses against deportees, summarized in the 2011 report “A Culture of Cruelty.” For “Crossing the Line, part 2,” NMD contributed footage of a lesser known issue: for years, agents have been slashing the water bottles that volunteers leave on trails for migrants’ use.
Conceptions of Reciprocity: The Navarro Transplant Case, Organ Allocation and Undocumented Immigrants – Emily Avera
Organ donors give the gift of life, but the sheer volume of patients hoping for transplants far outstrips donor generosity. How should we make decisions to ensure the equitable distribution of a limited supply of organs? In a system that depends on the goodwill of donors and public trust, this question becomes further complicated when undocumented immigrants seek transplants – especially in the United States, where undocumented immigrants consent to donate organs more often than they receive them. In light of this fact, should citizenship be a substantial consideration? Or should allocation decisions be made according to a claim of reciprocity – i.e., that individuals or groups who are willing to donate are more entitled to receive organs than others?
Hearty congratulations to AccessDenied contributor Rachel Stonecipher, whose recent piece “Shattered by Security: The Impact of Secure Communities on Families” has been awarded second prize in the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center’s 2012 Student Prize Competition For Excellence in Writing to Advance Social Justice.
The prize, named for the renowned author of the monumental anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, “recognizes outstanding writing by U.S. high school and college students that motivates positive action for social justice.”
Stonecipher is a senior double-major in Anthropology and Film & Media Arts at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. After college she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in anthropology with a focus on medical anthropology, im/migration and health, the anthropology of experience, and public anthropology. She is currently engaged in the second phase of a two-year research project on the practice and experience of migrant advocacy work on the U.S.-Mexico border, supported by the Engaged Learning program at SMU.
“Shattered by Security” is Stonecipher’s second contribution to AccessDenied. An earlier co-authored piece, “Call It a Crisis: Confronting Public Health Risks on the U.S.-Mexico Border,” was published last August. Her third contribution, a reflection on her participant observation with the NGO No More Borders, which provides water and emergency medical assistance to migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, will be published shortly.
Fortifying the Boundaries of Deservingness: Israeli Government Steps up Policies of Exclusion towards Irregular Migrants – Nora Gottlieb
Ben Gurion University of the Negev
On January 11, 2012, the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) passed an amended ‘Infiltrator Law,’ whose declared purpose is to deter irregular migrants and asylum seekers from entering the country. The law enables draconian measures, including three-year imprisonment without trial for entering the country illegally. In its original version, the law would have made assistance to irregular migrants punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment, but that particular paragraph was removed at the last minute.
Ironically, the logic of exclusion and securitization that underlies such laws has its roots in Israel’s self-concept as the homeland that guarantees the Jewish people protection and safety from persecution. The Infiltrator Law is part of a recent wave of policy decisions that solidify the denial of social and health rights to various (non-Jewish) migrant populations. Below I critically evaluate some of these recent policy developments in terms of their implications for the health rights of irregular migrants and asylum seekers in Israel.
New Special Issue of Social Science & Medicine – “Migration, ‘illegality,’ and health: Mapping embodied vulnerability and debating health-related deservingness”
University of Connecticut
Earlier this month, the journal Social Science & Medicine published a Special Issue — “Migration, ‘illegality,’ and health: Mapping embodied vulnerability and debating health-related deservingness” – that showcases the ongoing work of both the Initiative on Unauthorized Immigration and Health within the Society for Medical Anthropology’s Critical Anthropology of Global Health Special Interest Group and the AccessDenied community.
We are delighted to recap that volume here, and we encourage interested readers to access the individual articles via the journal’s website.[1,2]
In this new collection, we propose the time is ripe for rigorous interdisciplinary conversation about two urgent matters: first, the complicated but largely under-investigated matter of health-related deservingness, and second, the ways in which “illegality,” like other forms of marginalization and exclusion, can become literally embodied.
- An editorial in the New York Times argues that Hispanic families are more vulnerable in economic downturns due in part to US immigration policy.
- The editorial is based on a recent report released by the Pew Research Center documenting how the recession widened the wealth gap between white, black, and Hispanic households in the United States.
Benefits vs. Ethics? Re-Assessing Healthcare Access for the Undocumented in France – Stéphanie Larchanché
IRIS-EHESS and Centre Françoise Minkowska, Paris
In March 2010, the French National Assembly voted to further limit healthcare access to the undocumented. Since 2001, State Medical Aid (AME) has provided undocumented immigrants living in France with free healthcare coverage. To be eligible for AME, one must provide proof of residence in France for a minimum of three months and evidence of limited monthly income (below 634 euros). Soon after this arrangement was created, however, additional restrictions were added as requirements for access to AME including presentation of a valid government-issued ID, presentation of a housing certificate – which can only be received via specific state-mandated social services – and a mandatory minimum service fee for health services. On March 2nd, 2010, following discussions on budget restrictions, center-right Assembly representative Dominique Tian proposed still more limitations on AME, including the addition of a 30 euro application fee and additional restrictions on covered healthcare services. According to Tian, «If one is willing to pay several thousands of euros to come to France, I doubt that a 30 euro application fee will prevent one from accessing care.»
Who picked the strawberries you ate for breakfast? “Afflicting the comfortable” as pedagogic strategy – Sarah Willen
Sarah S. Willen
Do unauthorized im/migrants have a right to health? To medical care? To publicly funded care? These questions – all of them vexing, provocative, and contentious – catalyze the work we do here at AccessDenied, where we aim not to provide pat answers, but to serve as a clearinghouse for fresh ideas and resources of intellectual and practical value. Sometimes, though, we wonder how much preaching we do to the choir. What about those who find it reasonable, logical, or common sensical to declare unauthorized im/migrants automatically “undeserving” or, more commonly, those who have not (yet) given the matter any serious thought – including, quite frequently, our students?
In this post, I consider these questions through two lenses: first, a rallying cry issued 20 years ago by critical medical anthropologist Merrill Singer, and second, a recent pedagogical adventure in the Green Mountains of Vermont. I’ll begin with the rallying cry.