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.
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.
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.
Expanding Vulnerability: Health Care, Well-Being, and Arizona’s Immigration Policies – Julie Armin & Robin Reineke
Julie Armin & Robin Reineke
University of Arizona
Arizona has seen a systematic attack on immigrants over the past year. Several anti-immigrant measures have passed through the legislature in recent months, and more are in the planning stages. Through the everyday enforcement of these policies, the borders of the United States are re-inscribed on bodies and within communities, creating “legal” and “illegal” categories of people who have differential access to state resources and services. Nicholas De Genova argues that ‘illegality’ “is an erasure of legal personhood” that is designed not to physically exclude individuals, but “to socially include them under imposed conditions of enforced and protracted vulnerability.” These constructed categories can expand, compromising the well-being of those who seem to fall outside their initial reach, as friends, co-workers, teachers, doctors, and community members are implicated. Read more…
Kirwan Institute, Ohio State University
The following piece has been reposted, with kind permission, from a recent special edition of the blog Race-Talk that focuses on Latino organizing for social justice. Race-Talk is managed and moderated by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University.
In her post, Cheryl Staats highlights the syndemic relationship between health status and Latino workers’ vulnerability, including the substantial proportion of immigrants among them. She also calls our attention to both the critical importance of claiming a voice in political spheres and the inevitable risks facing unauthorized im/migrants who do so.
Although the piece does not focus specifically on unauthorized im/migrants, lack of status amplifies the vulnerabilities she discusses. In particular, raising complaints about workplace safety can put immigrant workers at risk of being fired, deported, separated from family, and/or losing their source of livelihood and ability to support local and transnational dependents. Importantly, all of these forms of vulnerability further impede the kind of organizing and claimsmaking for which the author calls.
- The Access Denied Team
In the midst of the uproar surrounding comprehensive immigration reform and the devastating new law in Arizona that seemingly legalizes racial profiling, immigrants and their advocates and organizers are shouldering the strains of these significant challenges. While these battles are ongoing, one bright spot has recently emerged: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) increased recognition of the workplace dangers that plague many Latinos, particularly immigrants, coupled with actions to attend to these labor issues.