American Sociological Association

Collateral Subjects: The Normalization of Surveillance for Mexican Americans on the Border

The U.S.-Mexico border has been of particular interest to the Trump administration in its ongoing efforts to restrict immigration. Though unauthorized immigrants are the purported targets of measures to increase border enforcement, U.S.-born individuals of Mexican descent also bear the consequences of nativist policies. Based on 42 in-depth interviews, I focus on late-generation (third-plus) Mexican Americans to analyze individuals’ experiences with surveillance by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Nogales and Tucson, Arizona. In this study, I explore the effects of anti-immigrant policies on Mexican Americans by examining how surveillance operates in people’s everyday lives as well as how people respond to the presence of surveillance. I find that the pervasiveness of surveillance elicits a mixture of fear and desensitization from residents, as they simultaneously grow accustomed to surveillance while navigating an ever-changing political terrain. Finally, I explore responses to the authority of immigration officers, which vary from strategies of compliance to strategies of resistance. These varied approaches are complicated by the liminal status of Mexican Americans in the United States as both a racialized group and a community that benefits from some of the privileges of holding U.S. citizenship.

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Adriana C. Núñez





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