- Terrorizing Latina/o Immigrants: Race, Gender, And Immigration Politics in The Age of Security by Anna Sampaio
Anna Sampaio's Terrorizing Latina/o Immigrants: Race, Gender, And Immigration Politics in the Age of Security provides a comprehensive and engaging analysis of how Latina/o immigrants exist in a paradox: in that, they are portrayed as terrorists by a nation that in fact terrorizes them. [End Page 123]
While steeped in contemporary concerns about the enforcement policies of such agencies as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), the book effectively links these phenomena with the nation's history of dealing with Latina/o persons, beginning with the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty, which created the U.S.-Mexico border we know today, up until the DREAM Act. In the process, Sampaio successfully links the experiences of immigrants with the plight of other immigrant groups that endured exclusionary legislation fueled by racism, such as the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and the Immigration Act of 1917. Thus, while the book is primarily concerned with the issues faced by Latina/o communities, its conscious efforts to link these issues with those endured by other communities will fascinate students and scholars of ethnic American history, culture, literature, and film.
Sampaio also successfully shows how race and gender intersect in the persecution—or, to paraphrase her title, the terrorizing—of Latina/o communities. This is especially evident in the second chapter, in which Sampaio argues that the nation's security discourses rely on rhetoric of "masculine protectionism, demonization, and de-Americanization in ways that constitute Latina/o immigrants as foreign and threatening, positioning them as potential terrorists" (21). In other words, the United States positions itself as the masculinized protector, thus relegating its own citizens (as well as women and children abroad) as feminized dependents, while demonizing and de-Americanizing Latina/o immigrants. The author's analysis of the intersectionality of race and gender continues in chapter 6 through its three case studies of Jose Padilla, Yaser Hamdi, and John Walker Lindh. In one of its most compelling arguments about how racism operates in the treatment of individuals accused of treason, she points out that of the three individuals examined here, Lindh in fact was the only one "who admitted to working on behalf of the Taliban [and] to fighting against the United States" (127), yet "retained the rights of political agency of a citizen" (113) due to his status as a white, middle-class man. The author uses critical race studies, feminist theory, and intersectional analysis to complement her background in political science, thus differentiating her work from preexisting scholarship, which Sampaio writes "leaves unexamined the way that racialization and gendering processes have operated in tandem to construct Latina/o immigrants as potential terrorists and to legitimize their terrorization via restrictive state practices" (8).
In addition to these methodologies, Sampaio also uses newspaper articles in her study. While some may criticize her reliance on newspapers, the author strategically explains that her use of such sources stems from the lack of documentation by the DHS, ICE, and the CIS. By drawing our attention specifically to this lack of documentation from government agencies, Sampaio highlights the dangers of the restrictive legislation and practices of the U.S. and state governments towards Latina/o populations, including natural born citizens as Sampaio shows in chapter 6. For students and scholars seeking a carefully-researched and nuanced study on the issues facing Latina/o immigrants, Sampaio's book is worthwhile reading.