Abstract

Since 2005, local governments in southern California’s Inland Empire region have attempted to pass various types of immigration regulation. I examine several cases from this region that symbolize the contemporary national debate on immigration in the U.S. Using a conceptual framework derived from a body of work by critical geographers on immigration, I argue that geography is integral to the construction of immigration politics and policy. Specifically, I use the concepts of spatial targeting and discursive production of scale to understand how local and national immigration politics and policies fit together. Thus, I compare the local case studies from the Inland Empire to national immigration politics and policies. I discuss the Bush administration immigration policies, immigration bills passed in the U.S. Congress since 2005, and their constitutive arguments. I conclude that the contradiction between liberal trade and restrictive immigration policy, which has frustrated the implementation of immigration reform at the national level and has opened the floodgate to local immigration reform initiatives, is creating a complex topography of regulations and enforcement. This new geography of rights and citizenship is a process of spatial targeting whereby local immigration regulations have taken the place of national immigration reform. Like other critical geographers, I argue that these local resolutions to the contradictions of the U.S. neoliberal state allow for the continuation of the current status quo of a flexible labor market made up of undocumented workers with contingent rights.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1551-3211
Print ISSN
0066-9628
Pages
pp. 120-143
Launched on MUSE
2009-06-10
Open Access
No
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