Borderlands and Latino Studies Seminar: Gabriella Sanchez, Arizona State University, and Manuel Ramirez, University of Texas

Center for American History and Culture Programs
Borderlands and Latino/a Studies Seminar
Friday, September 23, 2011

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

B-91

 “Border Crossings: Smuggling Operations in the Southwest
Gabriella Sanchez, Arizona State University
Following the implementation of federal immigration control measures in the 1990s, Arizona became the main point of entry for undocumented immigrants along the US border with Mexico in the early 2000s. Since then, reports have blamed human smuggling facilitators for the increase of undocumented immigration into the state and the apparent development of violent practices targeting the undocumented. However, little is known about the organization of the groups who work at facilitating the transit of undocumented immigrants along the US Mexico Border. Based on interviews and narratives present in legal files of smuggling cases prosecuted in Phoenix, Arizona, the present study provides an analysis of local human smuggling operations. It argues that far from being under the control of organized crime, smuggling is an income generating strategy of the poor that generates financial opportunities for community members in financial distress. The study raises questions over smuggling’s perceptions as violent and instead identifies smuggling-related violence as a reflection of the structural violence carried out by the state against immigrant communities through policing, surveillance and the consistent and systematic exercise of race-based policies.

“The Impact of Drugs and Immigration on the Culture of the Borderlands of South Texas
Manuel Ramirez, University of Texas at Austin
A 10-year intergenerational longitudinal study in five non-metropolitan U.S.-Mexico border communities in South Texas indicated that borderland culture and inhabitants were becoming less binational and accepting because of fear of drug trafficking/related violence and suspicion of new immigrants from Mexico. Results of Phase I (1998-2000) also indicated that changes in culture and behavior were having a negative impact on frequency of cross-border travel that has been found to be critical to development of borderland culture and binational lifestyles. Phase II (2009-2011) results confirmed the findings of Phase I. It was concluded that changes taking place in borderlands culture and lifestyles are likely to have implications for U.S.-Mexico as well as for native Mexican American-Mexican immigrant relations.

Commentator: Juan Mora Torres, DePaul University

Scholl Center Seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically.  For a copy of the paper, e-mail the Scholl Center at scholl@newberry.org.  Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.