Migration in the Margins: A Feminist Geopolitical Study of Mexico’s Southern Border

Authors: Alicia Danze*,
Topics: Migration, Human Rights
Keywords: Feminist geopolitics; migration; Mexico; migrants' rights; borders; state margins
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Mid-City, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

U.S. support for border enforcement in Mexico has been ongoing for decades, but after the arrival of unprecedented numbers of Central American minors and families to the U.S. in 2014, greater pressure was placed on Mexico to seal its border with Guatemala. This paper explores the resulting tensions between the latest Mexican border enforcement policies outlined under Programa Frontera Sur, intended to tighten security and surveillance especially in the south of the country, and Mexico’s 2011 Migration Law, intended to facilitate the protection of migrants’ rights. Building on feminist geographic scholarship on migration, I examine the ways that the administrative borders of the Mexican state are maintained through tactics of oscillating contact, (in)visibility and (il)legibility, resulting in the creation of marginal spaces where migrants are simultaneously included and excluded from state protection. Importantly, I found that state margins, while often the sites of neglect, exploitation, and exception, also serve as sites of creativity where alternative geographies are developed and used for more flexible movement. Faith-based migrant shelters, specifically, serve both as thresholds for access to official protections and as openings for alternative mobilities. In conclusion, this paper calls for a reexamination of the ways that migrants’ rights are upheld in Mexico and internationally, arguing that threads of accountability must continue to be traced between local, national and international actors.

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