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Immigration as Local Politics: Re‐Bordering Immigration and Multiculturalism through Deterrence and Incapacitation

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  • LIETTE GILBERT

Abstract

Small town governments in North America have, in recent years, posed the most aggressive challenge to national immigration policy and multiculturalism. Immigration‐related municipal ordinances were introduced by local officials to defend the rights of local residents from the adverse effects of (unauthorized) immigration. Municipal measures proposed to control im/migrants not only present a constitutional challenge to the federal pre‐emption in matters of immigration law (which ineptitude they purport to redress), they expand on what Didier Bigo called a ‘governmentality of unease’, where migration is increasingly rationalized as a security problem. Municipal measures are re‐bordering the inclusion/exclusion of (unauthorized) migrants by expanding the territorial and political rationality of immigration control from the border to the interior, and by imposing and dispersing new mechanisms of control into the everyday spaces and practices of im/migrants regarded as ‘illegal’ and undesirable. This article examines two immigration‐related municipal measures (Hazleton, PA and Hérouxville, QC) which impose a logic of immigration control and identity protection through deterrence and incapacitation strategies, and thus erode civil rights of im/migrants. Résumé Certaines petites municipalités nord‐américaines ont récemment bousculé les politiques d'immigration nationales et le multiculturalisme. Les autorités locales en question ont fait voter des arrêtés municipaux liés à l'immigration afin de défendre les droits de leurs concitoyens contre les perceptions néfastes de l'immigration (irrégulière). Tout en représentant un défi constitutionnel à l'égard de la préemption fédérale en matière de législation sur l'immigration (dont l'inadéquation est censée être corrigée), les propositions municipales de contrôler les (im)migrants prolongent ce que Didier Bigo a appelé une ‘gouvernementalité du malaise’ qui voit de plus en plus la migration comme un problème de sécurité. Les mesures municipales redessinent les limites de l'inclusion‐exclusion des migrants (irréguliers) en amenant, de la frontière jusqu'à l'intérieur, la logique territoriale et politique propre au contrôle de l'immigration, tout en imposant et en diffusant de nouveaux mécanismes de contrôle dans les pratiques et espaces quotidiens des (im)migrants jugés ‘illégaux’ et indésirables. L'article étudie deux mesures municipales liées à l'immigration (à Hazleton en Pennsylvanie et à Hérouxville au Québec), lesquelles dictent une logique de contrôle de l'immigration et de protection identitaire au travers de stratégies de dissuasion et de création d'incapacités; ce faisant, ces dispositions amoindrissent les droits civils des (im)migrants.

Suggested Citation

  • Liette Gilbert, 2009. "Immigration as Local Politics: Re‐Bordering Immigration and Multiculturalism through Deterrence and Incapacitation," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(1), pages 26-42, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ijurrs:v:33:y:2009:i:1:p:26-42
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2427.2009.00838.x
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    Cited by:

    1. Katie Vasey & Lenore Manderson, 2012. "Regionalizing Immigration, Health and Inequality: Iraqi Refugees in Australia," Administrative Sciences, MDPI, vol. 2(1), pages 1-16, January.
    2. Witold Klaus, 2021. "The Porous Border Woven with Prejudices and Economic Interests. Polish Border Admission Practices in the Time of COVID-19," Social Sciences, MDPI, vol. 10(11), pages 1-13, November.

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