Logics, Mechanics, and Effects of Immigrant Policing in the Trump Era: Reflections from Mississippi and Beyond

Organized by Angela Stuesse astuesse@unc.edu

On August 7, 2019, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids on chicken processing plants in Mississippi detained 680 people, resulting in the largest single-state immigration enforcement action in U.S. history. Federal court documents revealed that the evidence used to authorize the raids included workers’ electronic ankle monitor data; fraudulent identity and work authorization documents; and the outsourcing of recruitment and hiring to third party labor contractors. Following the raids, in rural towns that have been home for the last 25 years to Indigenous Maya and other immigrants from across Latin America, public schools and churches became front-line actors leading community response efforts. Over 100 of the detained workers were charged with federal criminal offenses—prosecutions that broke with a decade of practice and contradicted Department of Justice guidelines. Detainees were scattered across a rapidly expanding patchwork of ICE detention centers that have proliferated across Louisiana and Mississippi since 2018. Meanwhile, the poultry industry continued production to keep up with consumer demand, desperately seeking new sources of hyper-exploitable labor.

One of the most visible enforcement actions of the Trump administration to date, the Mississippi workplace raids and others like them are ripe for critical analysis that can shine a light on the black box of immigration enforcement and its relationship to neoliberal capitalism, white nationalism, and the carceral state in the present moment. Inspired by—but not limited to—the Mississippi raids, this session highlights ethnographic and legal analyses that help illuminate the logics, mechanics, and/or effects of present-day policing of immigrant communities and workplaces. We invite papers examining the interconnected workings of the state, corporations, non-governmental organizations, communities, families, and/or immigrant workers, and the relationships between these actors/relationships and immigration raids (specifically) or immigration enforcement (more broadly) in the current moment.

Interested parties should submit a 250-word abstract to astuesse@unc.edu by March 25, 2020 for consideration and will be notified shortly thereafter. All submissions should make clear the connections (analytical, political, ethnographic, or otherwise) between the subject of their proposed paper and the context of the 2019 Mississippi raids.