In the Journals

In the Journals – Policing Migration

A Macedonian police officer raises his baton toward migrants by Freedom House via creativecommons

Welcome back to In the Journals! This ongoing series aims to bridge conversations that are often siloed by discipline, geographical region, language, and race. One of our goals is to make sure that the diverse voices currently reporting their research on policing, crime, law, security, and punishment are presented here. We are continuing our catch-up to develop article collections around different questions and themes. This post brings together articles from throughout 2019 and 2020 to identify the intersections of policing and migration. This includes the impacts of policing on migrants during and following the crossing of borders, the methods of deportation and securitization mobilized by police and border security, the production of citizenship by policing authorities and migrants, and the devolution of policing power to non-police actors.

Ioana Vrăbiescu’s article, “Deportation, smart borders and mobile citizens: using digital methods and traditional police activities to deport EU citizens,” was published in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies in August 2020. The article analyzes eight months of fieldwork conducted between 2016 and 2017 with police units in France and Romania, in order to understand digital methods of deporting European Union citizens in France across the Schengen border in Romania. Adding to literature on crimmigration and digital technology used in policing borders, Vrăbiescu identifies a gap between the supposed controlled management of migration as a result of digital technologies introduced by the state in the deportation apparatus, and the reality of the Schengen border’s “messiness”. This “messiness” at the border results from the poor implementation of and training with digital technologies, unharmonious border patrol practices across the EU, the influence of nation-state narratives and norms of criminality and who poses a threat to the state, and the selective use of technology by border patrol officers. Vrăbiescu argues that technologies contribute to the draconian ‘Departheid’* policies and practices which work to systematically and totally remove illegal migrants, contribute to structural violence against Romanian citizens, and causes a surplus deportation of Romanian citizens from France. She notes that despite EU and state promotion of the use of digital surveillance technologies in migration control, border policing remains dependent on more traditional patrol methods and the discretion of officers interpreting and enforcing norms and regulations.

*The term ‘Departheid’ was proposed by Barak Kalir in his June 2019 article in Conflict and Society: Advances in Research, “Departheid: The Draconian Governance of Illegalized Migrants in Western States.”

International Migration published Mia Hershkowitz, Graham Hudson, and Harald Bauder’s article, “Rescaling the Sanctuary City: Police and Non-Status Migrants in Ontario, Canada” in April 2020. The article analyzes promises of protection made by Canadian cities for migrants in contrast with requirements of local police to cooperate with Canadian Border Services Agency representatives. Through interviews with Ontario police officers, the authors identify that despite sanctuary-city policies adopted in several Ontario cities, which prohibit the identification of non-status residents to Federal authorities by city employees, local police do not implement the sanctuary-city policies, and believe they have authority to report information regarding citizenship status to Federal authorities. With officers identifying provincial law and policy as being at odds with municipal sanctuary-city policy, they preference provincial legislation, influenced by inconsistent customs across police forces, and national securitization rhetoric which identifies non-status migrants as a threat to the state. Despite police officers’ recognition of the important values upheld by the sanctuary-city policy, their sense of securitization and perceived partnership with the Canadian Border Services Agency overrules the values of the policy. The authors call for clarity in provincial legislation, – which they claim already supports sanctuary policy – arguing that it would impose interpretive constraints on local police officers, and require them to uphold the sanctuary-city policy.

August 2020’s issue of Social Science & Medicine included an article entitled “Challenges to medical ethics in the context of definition and deportation: Insights from a French postcolonial department in the Indian Ocean” by Nina Sahraoui. Sahraoui utilizes interviews conducted with healthcare professionals in Mayotte and local and international health institutions to identify midwives’ power to police in migration control through their assessment of pregnant women intercepted at sea by police. She argues that midwives are socialized into logics of border enforcement, and granted the power to police patients’ mobility or immobility, determining if migrant pregnant women’s health can handle detainment and deportation. The increasing role of medical professionals – and in the case of Mayotte, midwives – in the policing of migrants (biopower) challenges medical ethics, as midwives are forced to make decisions on a patient’s medical status which will impact their migration status and could put their health at risk. This biopolitical management role that midwives are charged with infringes on their medical independence and relations of care, as their decisions on migrants’ mobility are informed by police authority pressure, state positions and policies on migration issues, social norms and stigmas surrounding migrants, and medical ethical norms of appropriate caretaking.

The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology’s November 2019 issue included the article, “‘We Came for the Cartilla but We Stayed for the Tortilla’: Enlisting in the Military as a Form of Migration for Zapotec Men” by Iván Sandoval-Cervantes. The article, based on over one hundred formal and informal interviews conducted in Zegache in Oaxaca with Indigenous Zapotec community members (Zegacheños), explores factors leading to Indigenous men’s enlistment in the Mexican military. Many of these factors are economic, with men seeking a better life, health care, and economic means for themselves and their families, as the military provides skills and experiences which can expand employment opportunities both within Mexico and internationally. Sandoval-Cervantes identifies these factors as similar to those which lead to transnational migration of Indigenous youth, with enlisting also requiring Zapotec migration within Mexico during service. Zapotec Indigenous men become policing agents themselves as soldiers in the Mexican military, with policing being the catalyst for internal migration during service, as well as a requirement for transnational migration following service. Sandoval-Cervantes argues that enlisting in the military is itself a form of internal migration (and transborder experience), and becomes obligatory for migration as it provides men with the cartilla – proof of identity which is required to obtain a Mexican passport.

Anja Franck published an article in Asia Pacific Viewpoint’s April 2019 issue, entitled “The ‘street politics’ of migrant il/legality: Navigating Malaysia’s urban borderscape.” The article uses fieldwork with formal and informal Burmese labour migrants, police officers, and NGOs in George Town, Malaysia, to argue that migrants use whatever means available to them to navigate the urban borderscape, avoid police exploitation, and challenge the state’s production of migrant subjects and the urban city. Franck identifies migrants as agents in the bordering process, transforming urban space and its borders, as well as social relations, through their everyday encounters with police. She focuses on Malaysia’s policing of migrants internally instead of through their more easily-crossed transnational border, and identifies borders as performed and brought into existence through bordering practices. Burmese migrants’ access to Malaysia’s urban space is restricted through state internal immigration control and border-making practices, but is also transformed and redefined through everyday actions of border-making by migrants themselves, indicating the limits of state power to control and discipline migrants. These bordering practices are performed in the streets by both the state and migrants – the state’s practices being policing, spatial divisions, and the production of migrants as unwanted and illegal, and migrant practices being their continued presence in urban spaces and avoiding encounters with enforcement apparatuses, infringing on the state’s production of their identity and exclusion of them from urban space.

Looking at the intra-state policing of migrants, Tomonori Sugimoto’s August 2019 article in City & Society, “Urban Settler Colonialism: Policing and Displacing Indigeneity in Taipei, Taiwan,” focuses on the policing of the Indigenous Pangach/Amis people following their migration to Taipei. Sugimoto argues that Pangach/Amis urban migrants face ongoing dispossession of identity and land through state techniques of urban settler colonialism. After being displaced from Taipei following WWII, Pangach/Amis people migrated back to Taipei in the 1960s and 1970s, building urban squatter settlements as an attempt to reclaim their land. Following this migration, the Taiwanese government sought to re-displace the Pangach/Amis from urban Taipei in the 1990s and 2000s, utilizing police to force Indigenous relocation from squatter communities to a housing complex, which was under the surveillance of security guards and an on-site Han manager. Not only did the state force Indigenous relocation of settlements to a location heavily surveilled and policed, they sold Indigenous-occupied land to developers, enabling the policing of Indigenous street businesses and settlements, largely through fines, to ensure displacement. State dispossession was also naturalized by urban non-Indigenous residents, who further policed Pangach/Amis land and identity by claiming Han majority in Taipei, and depicting Indigenous settlements, street businesses and behaviour as uncivilized. Sugimoto identifies policing of Pangach/Amis migrants in Taipei as enacted by the state itself, by security guards, by Han community members, and by corporate developers in order to re-dispossess Indigenous land and identity.

As always, we welcome your feedback. If you have any suggestions for journals we should be keeping tabs on for this feature, or if you want to call our attention to a specific issue or article, send an email to anthropoliteia@gmail.com with the words “In the Journals” in the subject line.
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In the Journals

In the Journals, March 2019

Blog Pic Low Intensities

From: Diane M. Nelson, “Low Intensities,” Current Anthropology 60, no. S19 (February 2019): S122-S133.

 

Welcome back to In the Journals, a brief look at just a few articles that have been published in previous months on policing, law, and governance. These particular articles were published in their articles between January and February, 2019.

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In the Journals

In the Journals – May 2016

Mine Warning

Summer is here and that means that most of us will no doubt be undertaking fieldwork of some sort. But fear not, as we here at In the Journals will continue to provide monthly round-ups of the latest articles regarding surveillance, governance, and policing for the entirety of the summer.

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Dossiers

Order by the Books: Suicide crime scene investigations in southern Mexico

The editors of Anthropoliteia would like to welcome a special guest post from Beatriz Reyes-Foster as part of our series of anthropological reports From the Field

Abstract

The complex and contested relationship between representatives of a Mexican law enforcement agency and the citizenry it claims to protect is visible in the documents it produces. Ethnographic material further deepens our understanding of the ways in which law enforcement agents and common citizens form relationships based on negotiation and distrust.

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Blotter

Follow up: women police chiefs in Mexico

On Monday Hermila García Quiñones, who on October 9th 2010 became the first female police chief of the city of Meoqui in Mexico, was shot and killed after leaving her home, which she shared with her parents, whom she supported, on her way to work. García Quiñones was one of four women who have recently taken on leadership roles in police departments in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, in the face of drug-related violence the government has been unable to control.

I wrote in October about the 20-year-old criminology student, Marisol Valles Garcia, who became chief of police in Praxedis G. Guerrero. Her youth and determination to prevent violence with “principles and values” rather than guns, were headline news for a brief moment, and quickly inspired two more women to become heads of security of their towns, also in the Juárez Valley – Verónica Ríos Ontiveros, of El Vergel and Olga Herrera Castillo, of Villa Luz. Both are small hamlets in Samalayuca, south of Juárez City, and since there are only a few officers and one patrol car,  they will mostly take crime reports.

Although Hermila García Quiñones started before the other women, and led a much larger force of 90 officers, she didn’t receive quite as much publicity. She was unmarried and did not have children, and although criticized for her lack of experience in police work, she was at least an attorney and had worked in city government before. Her situation was similar to that of Silvia Molina, who in 2008 was the top administrative official of the police department in Ciudad Juarez and was also killed.

The media’s interest is greater for more exotic cases, the very young student with an infant, the two housewives she inspired. They would all seem to be part of the same trend, of women taking on security posts, and the death of García Quiñones, and Molina before her, make it doubtful that female gender provides any protection from the violence of the cartels. Maybe the other women’s inexperience and motherhood will make a difference, and maybe this is what they are hoping.  So, this is just an update; if anyone has any thoughts, please do share

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Criminology student becomes the chief of police

It’s a remarkable turn of events that Marisol Valles Garcia, a 20-year-old criminology student, has taken on the position of chief of police in Praxedis G. Guerrero, a small town in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, bordering Texas. Praxedis G. Guerrero is located in the Juarez Valley, 35 miles southeast of Ciudad Juarez, called “the bloodiest city in Mexico”, with a reported 2,500 people killed in cartel-related violence so far this year. At night, drug gangs take over, and most of the police buildings in surrounding towns have been abandoned.

Marisol Valles Garcia was the only applicant for the job according to most news outlets, although the UK Guardian reported that the town’s mayor, Jose Luis Guerrero, said she was the most qualified of a handful of applicants. The Guardian added that in many parts of Mexico, it is “considered tantamount to a death sentence”. Valles Garcia’s plan is to have a dozen or so mostly female, unarmed officers “out there going door to door, looking for criminals, and (in homes) where there are none, trying to teach values to the families”. This plan is both touching and pragmatic, as the force currently consists of “13 agents, nine of them women, with one working patrol car, three automatic rifles and a pistol”.

Valles Garcia told CNN en Español, “The weapons we have are principles and values, which are the best weapons for prevention” and “[o]ur work will be pure prevention. We are not going to be doing anything else other than prevention”.

According to CNN, Valles Garcia “aims to establish programs in neighborhoods and schools, to win back security in public spaces and to foster greater cooperation among neighbors so they can form watch committees”.

I wonder how the reported plan for an unarmed, mostly female patrol was developed. Yes, it is pragmatic, but since Valles Garcia has also been assigned two body guards, and there’s been a fair amount of media attention, presumably other resources could have been appropriated for the town. So let’s say it is a choice. There’s a long history of unarmed patrols of course – does anyone have those references handy? In March 2010, there was the “Female approach to Peacekeeping” article in the NYTimes, about an all-women United Nations police unit from India, in Liberia. I did a quick search for precedents as well and saw that Manila had an “all-women mobile patrol” group that monitored malls during the Christmas season. Actually, most of the stories on women police officers were from India, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

That an untested college student was the best option, considering the crime and violence in the region, surely says something – about her stunning bravery, about the failure of traditional approaches, about the desperate conditions there. There’s nothing to say that Valles Garcia didn’t just decide to do this on her own though. Maybe she is drawing on ideas from her criminology classes.

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