- A 12-year-old girl, Noemi Álvarez Quillay, committed suicide in a children’s shelter on the border after she was picked up by police in Juárez on her second attempt to travel, alone but in the company of smugglers, the long journey from Nicaragua to her parents in the Bronx.
- Twelve people were arrested April 28 in a protest at the White House against deportations.
- On April 30, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. protested deportations by projecting a 60-by-90-foot video onto the side of the union’s headquarters in Washington.
- New Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said comprehensive immigration reform would be necessary to end unjust deportations and keep families together.
- Government records show that two-thirds of the people deported under the Obama administration had committed only minor offenses, contrary to the president’s claim that Immigration and Customs Enforcement prioritizes removing serious criminals (more commentary here and here). Rather than simply deporting them, the administration has chosen to file formal charges of “illegal entry” in 90 percent of cases against people without any previous criminal record, which threatens those caught returning illegally with prison time. However, over the course of Obama’s tenure since 2009, new deportation cases brought by his administration have decreased, albeit not at a rate pleasing to immigrant advocates.
- The New York Times Editorial Board is calling on President Obama to turn his attention away from immigration legislation and finally take executive action to halt deportations of non-criminal immigrants, a recourse the board says is inevitable.
- In its periodic review of U.S. compliance with the ICCPR, the UN Human Rights Committee called on the federal government to facilitate access to health care, especially reproductive care, among undocumented immigrants.
- An immigrant rights coalition is calling for a congressional investigation of inhumane detention practices at Georgia’s Stewart and Irwin county detention facilities, following a 2012 ACLU report.
- Hundreds of immigrant detainees at the Joe Corley Detention Center in Conroe, Texas launched a hunger strike on March 18, one of several recent strikes (e.g. Northwest Detention Center) to protest federal deportation practices.
- A heartbreaking and important group of maps allows for comparison of the militarized borders around the world with the highest death tolls.
- In a harsh new crackdown, the Obama administration plans to forcibly remove undocumented immigrants from Medicare’s rolls and explicitly require lawful presence in the country to enroll. Advocates charged that the problem of “fraud” lies more with health care providers than this population.
- A Border Patrol agent shot and killed a man he said had struck him in the face with a rock. The agency claims that rock-throwing incidents increased 70 percent from 2011 to 2012, an issue that has become the center of discussions around the agency’s use of deadly force. Read more…
Anthropology Afflicting the Comfortable: A Review of Seth Holmes’s “Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies” – Rachel Stonecipher
Having cut my teeth in anthropology while living in the state of Texas, I am accustomed to trying to explain what, exactly, this discipline is. At Thanksgiving, distant family members ask me whether I have anything interesting to tell them about the dinosaurs. When I correct them and confess that I neither dig up artifacts (certainly not T-Rex) nor analyze crime scenes, but rather practice “cultural” anthropology, I watch their shoulders sink and eyes wander away.
Seth Holmes’ book Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies is here to change that, and in the best of directions. In a tight 200 pages, Holmes lays out a call to action for social scientists, practicing physicians, and average readers to identify and combat the structural violence perpetrated against migrant farmworkers. By accompanying his companions as they migrate, work, and seek health care, Holmes sheds light on the “ethnicity-citizenship hierarchy” that shapes the health outcomes of indigenous Triqui migrant workers on a farm in the Skagit Valley of Washington state. His goal is to perform a “critical and reflexively embodied anthropology” that will “confront the ways in which certain classes of people come to be written off or deemed less human” (40-44). The idea of reflexive embodiment is to think about one’s own ways of sensing the world – such as feeling pain, love, or success – in critical comparison to how others sensorially experience. Holmes is on a trail parallel to the recent ethnographic movement, led by Sarah Willen, to interrogate the social inequality (re)produced when undocumented migrants come to embody their abject status. However, as I argue below, his approach is more akin to discourse analysis than Willen’s “critical phenomenology,” though it would be strengthened by more of the latter. Read more…