The US government is regulating the flow of people into the country. It aims to ‘build the wall’ between the US and Mexico, repeal NAFTA, alter immigration rules, and dramatically reduce refugee resettlement. However, an estimated 1.8 million refugees and 11 million undocumented immigrants already live in the US. Drawing on data collected in a 42-month ethnography in southern Arizona, we examine the ‘divergence’ of sovereignty, in which multiple, often competing, discourses and actions jostle for legitimization and authority. Framing our analysis with risk theory and sovereignty thinking, we reveal how immigrants from Mexico, especially those who are perceived as undocumented, are pitted against refugees in a battle for cultural belonging, rights, and citizenship through government action and discourses and practices of local immigrant and refugee support agencies. We trace how these newcomers displace and replace each other as the ‘greatest risk’ to Arizona’s economy, social services, and security.
- risk theory
- undocumented Mexican migrants
- United States
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)