Sounds of Surveillance: U.S. Spanish-Language Radio Patrols La Migra
Abstract

Abstract:

Trade magazines credit radio’s unprecedented growth since the 1980s to booming Latino population numbers. I argue, however, that the immigration climate with its recurring public campaigns to legitimate racial profiling has transformed the character of Spanish-language broadcasts and with it, underscored the significance of sound-based media for Latino immigrant communities. The “catch 22” predicament of needing legal advice to secure documentation without being visually recognized privileges the medium of sound. In this essay, I point to Q&A shows with guest immigration attorneys as well as “la migra alerts” where listeners call radio stations to inform the public of Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) sightings as two instances in which immigrant communities use radio broadcasts to patrol the legislative developments and physical movements of ICE officials.