"Hitting Closer to Home" : The Politics of a Community's Understanding of Deportability in Northern Michigan
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The nation-state's existence as an "imagined political community" (Anderson 1983) relies on both physical and imagined borders which inevitably creates "insiders" and "outsiders." In this imagined nation, made up of "good citizens" (Anderson 2013), the border becomes a way of demarcating "us" and "them." In this paper, I analyze the way borders are constantly reproduced and normalized through discourse about "fixing" the immigration "problem," particularly once it is defined as such (Croucher 1997). The normalization of the border leads to a collective inability to think of alternatives to the border's importance as both a site of national sovereignty and a source of labor to fulfill capitalist needs. My research consists of interviews conducted with community members in northern Michigan, where there has been a presence of undocumented migrants and families for many years. While deportability has been a reality faced by undocumented migrants and loved ones for decades, people in this area voiced their initial interest in supporting undocumented migrants given the amplification of this topic under the Trump administration. This increase in awareness has been critical to increasing opportunities for support and safety in the community. However, it has also led to conversations about how to "fix" the immigration "problem." Ideas often came in the form of recommendations for "softer" or more efficient borders, simultaneously normalizing their value and purpose while reconfiguring them for less overt exclusions. Furthermore, the sole interest in the U.S.-Mexico border rather than the closer in proximity Canadian border, showcases the contours of racialization and belonging within the American imagined community.