Fear and discipline in a permanent state of exception : Mexicans, their families, and U.S. immigrant processing in Ciudad Juarez
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The United States recently completed the construction of a new Consulate compound in an underdeveloped site in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. Mexican applicants for U.S. Immigrant Visas, particularly those who had previously entered the United States without inspection, are sent to the facility to apply through a mandatory personal interview. The interview process necessitates highly invasive medical exams at designated militarized facilities, followed by a series of interviews with consular officers. Applicants, many of whom are visiting Juarez for the first time, must wait in the city for days or weeks as they attempt to navigate the requirements. Even as the city has become more violent, the U.S. Consulate mission in Juarez has become an economic driver as it processes more immigrant visas than any other U.S. Consular office in the world. It is also the largest U.S. Consulate building on the planet and the immigration complex is drawing new migrants who are both seeking asylum through it and aiding in its construction. U.S. immigration policies and the administrative procedures that accompany them also serve to discipline immigrant visa applicants long before they arrive in Juarez as they navigate a system built on penalties and waivers. The effects of these policies transcend borders and citizenship, impacting not only the immigrant applicant, but their U.S. families as well. The normalization of violence towards Mexicans and their families is becoming entrenched in a culture of impunity, both in Mexico and the United States. The immigrant processing and maquiladora manufacturing that take place in Ciudad Juarez play a specific role in U.S. / Mexico relations and are representative of the intersection of immigration policy, labor desires, and neoliberal and post-neoliberal policies of structural violence. The United States has developed, in Juarez, an economic development and security program and immigrant processing center concomitantly and Mexico has worked lockstep to fortify this position. I examine this historical occurrence, and the experiences of immigrant applicants and their families, using Foucault’s theories of discipline.