Synopses & Reviews
Detention and deportation are keystones of contemporary immigration enforcement policy around the world, typically unquestioned as state responses to undocumented human movement across borders. The use of these practices is framed in public, political, and academic discourse by a particular spatiotemporal logic. Detention is presented as the physical containment of unwanted immigrants, and deportation as the end of immigrants' territorial violation. In other words, the logic behind detention and deportation is state territorialization and implies the enforcement of a strict territorial break in terms of membership and belonging. Detain and Deport refutes that logic.
Nancy Hiemstra argues, instead, for the reconceptualization of detention and deportation as practices that create spatiotemporal linkages across state borders. Reframing these practices as inherently transnational means reconfiguring punitive state power not in terms of an enforced disconnection but instead in terms of an enforced connection between peoples and places on opposite--even nonproximate--sides of the border. State power, then, is not necessarily traced to partition, as existing literature seems to indicate through a focus on border militarization and territorialization. In making this argument, Hiemstra employs a groundbreaking methodological approach to the study of policy and state power: transnational ethnography. Transnational ethnography emphasizes research in countries of migrant origin to study the geopolitical reverberations of immigration enforcement policies in destination countries.
Detention and deportation have become keystones of immigration and border enforcement policies around the world. The United States has built a massive immigration enforcement system that detains and deports more people than any other country. This system is grounded in the assumptions that national borders are territorially fixed and controllable, and that detention and deportation bolster security and deter migration. Nancy Hiemstra's multisited ethnographic research pairs investigation of enforcement practices in the United States with an exploration into conditions migrants face in one country of origin: Ecuador. Detain and Deport's transnational approach reveals how the U.S. immigration enforcement system's chaotic organization and operation distracts from the mismatch between these assumptions and actual outcomes. Hiemstra draws on the experiences of detained and deported migrants, as well as their families and communities in Ecuador, to show convincingly that instead of deterring migrants and improving national security, detention and deportation generate insecurities and forge lasting connections across territorial borders. At the same time, the system's chaos works to curtail rights and maintain detained migrants on a narrow path to deportation. Hiemstra argues that in addition to the racialized ideas of national identity and a fluctuating dependence on immigrant labor that have long propelled U.S. immigration policies, the contemporary emphasis on detention and deportation is fueled by the influence of people and entities that profit from them.