Forced Out and Fenced In is a collection of almost two dozen accounts by sociologists, anthropologists, historians, geographers, and other scholars, drawn from their research on the US immigration system. It is full of captivating stories of immigrants, their families and communities, and occasionally the scholars themselves. Most chapters are focused on undocumented immigrants in the USA. The contributors have done a wonderful job of making the connections between individual lives, processes, laws, and systems. Some of the stories represent the experience of many immigrants; others highlight the extreme or the unique. For a novice, these stories provide an engaging way to learn about immigration history and present in the USA. Yet they also hold much interest for those who are well-versed in immigration scholarship. The book opens with a cogent discussion of immigration enforcement, racialization, deportability, as well as an explanation of continuities and ruptures in immigration policy in the USA. The short chapters are organized into seven parts, each introduced by the editor, who provides an orientation for the set of immigration tales to come. Part I is ‘Migration Histories’, and the first chapter of the book is a fascinating account—complete with photos!—of the life of Wong Foon Chuck, who led a long and complicated transnational existence between China, the USA, and Mexico. Elliott Young uses Chuck’s story to show that migrants can be successful citizens in their new countries even as their identities and practices continue to span national borders. Mae Ngai’s chapter is also about Chinese immigrants. It is a nuanced account of Chinese interpreters, undercover government informants, and co-ethnic immigration brokers in the early 20th century, whose mode of incorporation raises thorny moral and theoretical questions. The other two historical chapters are about Mexican migration. Kelly Lytle Hernandez uses the life of Mexican insurgent Antonio I. Villarreal to show how the Mexican government employed US deportation laws to repress rebellion in the early 20th century, and the way deportees resisted. Adam Goodman’s chapter tells the story of people from one Mexican town, starting with bracero migrations in the mid-20th century. His chapter illuminates an earlier version of today’s deportation nation, as well as the effects of family separations. The rest of the volume is focused on the present. Several parts are composed of chapters that consider deportation, including deportation’s effects on families (Part 2), gendered deportation patterns (Part 5), lives of deported DREAMers (Part 6), and experiences of deportees who return to the USA (Part 7). Many of these stories demonstrate inequalities and arbitrariness built into immigration laws. A particularly poignant example comes from Chapter 7, in which Kara Cebulko traces the paths of two Brazilian twins, whose painful separation across national borders echoes the title of the volume: one is fenced in the USA, and the other is forced out. Another chapter that stands out is Yolanda Martin’s devastating story (Chapter 14) of three generations of Dominican women deported to the Dominican Republic, starting with the Harvard-educated matriarch. Nancy Hiemstra’s chapter (20) is striking for its description of ethnographic fieldwork that presents a continents-spanning human smuggling process that entraps marginalized indigenous Ecuadorans. Although the bulk of the volume is devoted to different aspects of deportation, there is a set of chapters on the experience of living as undocumented in the USA, and another on the asylum process. As the editor points out in the introduction to Part 3, there is wide variation in exclusion and inclusion experienced by the undocumented in the USA. The four chapters demonstrate how illegality intersects with other social categories and geography, and how much hinges on access to a drivers’ license. In one of the most arresting contributions to the volume, Nolan Kline (Chapter 10) describes how adapting to a license-less existence results in a head injury for one undocumented immigrant, whose skull is literally held hostage by the hospital because he lacks health insurance. Part 4 features three stories of asylum seekers: a medley of asylum seekers from across the world in Chapter 11, a fascinating tale of a well-off Guatemalan family in Chapter 12, and a trenchant analysis of the effect of immigration law on motherhood in a multigenerational Salvadoran family. Forced Out and Fenced In came out before Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy was ended by the Trump administration, and before what are likely to be other policies that make immigrant lives in the USA more precarious. Yet, the volume is nail-bitingly current and powerfully relevant because the contributors effectively connect stories of immigrants to processes, cultural formations, legal structures, and social networks that transcend borders and decades. As Robert Lovato points out in the Foreword, this book ‘provides first-hand accounts of individuals and families torn apart by the cruel policies that began with Bill Clinton, continued with George Bush and were then expanded to record-breaking levels by Barack Obama—all of whom laid the foundation on which Donald Trump will build walls of continued and expanded death, exploitation and racism’ (p. ix). I would add that the volume also provides a captivating dive into US history that grounds and contextualizes the present-day stories in long-term processes. The addition of chapters on the experience of Muslim immigrants, and immigrants on temporary work and student visas would have enhanced the reach of the volume, but this is a minor quibble. Forced Out and Fenced In succeeds on multiple levels. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Migration Studies – Oxford University Press
Published: Jan 30, 2018
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