Lockdown and the List: Mexican Migrants, Asylum Denial and the Feminist Geopolitics of La Espera (Waiting/Hoping)

Authors: Rebecca Maria Torres*, The University of Texas at Austin, Valentina Glockner-Fagetti, El Colegio de Sonora, Amy Thompson, The University of Texas at Austin, Nohora Constanza Niño Vega, El Colegio de Sonora, Gabriela García Figueroa, El Colegio de Sonora, Caroline Faria, The University of Texas at Austin
Topics: Migration, Political Geography, Latin America
Keywords: Feminist Geopolitics, Migration, Asylum, Mexico, Border, Violence
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 55
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Trump administration has weaponized the COVID-19 virus to shut-down the US-Mexico border to migrant and asylum-seeking bodies, exacerbating and constructing new states of (im)mobility, insecurity and lock-down. Many of those locked-in place are women and children displaced by narco-state terrorism entangled with normalized intimate gendered violences. Engaging feminist geopolitical work on waiting and the intertwined complex of slow-with-fast violence (Cahill and Pain 2019; Christian and Dowler 2019), we examine three modes of (extra-legal) lockdown used to discipline displaced Mexicans seeking asylum. First, local-scale Mexican authorities physically block nationals from reaching the border to seek asylum, steering them to la lista de espera. Second, the routinized list-based system with no juridical foundation disciplines who may cross the border and request asylum. “Running the list” is a corrupt process entailing permission to add, order and regulate names. Third, the US deploys illegal express deportation as a last and direct form of asylum control. Via these three modes: stopping, list-making and deportation, displaced Mexicans experience lockdown. Each practice of lockdown integrates local authorities, organized crime, non-profit and both Mexican and US state actors, policies, and practices - many of which are extra-legal, legally murky or illegal. These modes pre-existed but are exacerbated by COVID-19. Via these mechanisms, displaced families remain locked-in place at the border in a perpetual state of limbo, waiting, confinement and uncertainty. Highlighting just one of these modes, we close by describing how women are negotiating lock-down by creating solidarity networks of knowledge production, care and resistance.

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