Post by Tanya Golash-Boza, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of California, Merced, and author of the forthcoming book, Deported: Immigrant Policing, Disposable Labor, and Global Capitalism. See Tanya’s blog and follow her on Twitter @tanyaboza. This post is the first installment of the Border Criminologies Themed Week on Deportation Threat, Realities, and Practices in the United States organised by Tanya.

On April 17 and 18, 2015, the University of California at Merced hosted a conference, Blurring the Border: Deporting Denizens in the 21st Century. In a time of record-breaking deportations from the United States, this conference was timely and invigorating. To get a glimpse of the conference, check out this Storify.

The conference brought together an interdisciplinary group of scholars engaged in cutting-edge research on deportations to discuss questions such as: How do we understand the current moment of mass deportation? What has the intensified removal of denizens meant for the conceptualization of the United States as a ‘nation of immigrants?’ How do communities cope with the threat of deportation? Has citizenship become reconfigured or reimagined―as only citizens are deemed as belonging, and thus safe from deportation?

This week, the Border Criminologies blog will feature some of the research presented at that conference. Zulema Valdez, Robin Maria DeLugan, and I organized this conference to bring together scholars whose work focuses on this emerging field of deportation studies. There was a mix of senior and junior scholars, but a preponderance of junior scholars―whose work brings innovative ideas and questions to the table.

This new generation of young scholars has found the time and energy to get out into communities and develop nuanced understandings of the fear created through mass deportation, of the history and practices of detention, and of what happens to deportees. It simply would not have been possible to hold this conference ten years ago in the United States, as there were only a handful of scholars even thinking about these issues at that time.

Here is a preview of the blog posts we will feature this week:

Juan Manuel Pedroza will share his research on the replacement of the Secure Communities Program with the Priority Enforcement Program. Is the new program more effective or humane or just a new name? Pedroza’s work focuses on how the Secure Communities Program varied from one county to the next and helps us to understand how the deportation threat varies across space.

Maria-Elena Young’s post will focus on the pernicious health outcomes that undocumented immigrants face due to the threat of deportation. Young’s work provides concrete health data that show how the deportation threat can be embodied.

Kristina Shull will write about the rise of the use of detention in the United States and its connection to neoliberal reforms. Shull’s work is an important reminder of the connection between Reagonomics and the rise of mass detention.

Christine Wheatley’s post draws from ethnographic work inside detention facilities and demonstrates how these facilities are punitive in practice, if not in theory. Wheatley’s detailed descriptions of detention facilities provide a rare glimpse into these hidden spaces.

Kelly Birch’s post emphasizes the traumatic nature of the trip ‘home’ for Salvadoran deportees. Birch’s work enhances our understanding of deportation practices based on her interviews with recently arrived Salvadoran deportees.

Katie Dingeman-Cerda and Elizabeth Kennedy will share their findings and powerful images from El Salvador where deportees do not receive a warm welcome home. From Dingeman-Cerda and Kennedy’s work, we learn about the obstacles Salvadoran deportees face on their path to reintegration into their ‘home’ country.

Together, this series of posts takes us from the effects of the threat of deportation to the realities of detention and deportation. These research-based posts are excellent examples of some of the newest and most exciting work in this nascent field.

Themed Week on Deportation Threat, Realities, and Practices in the United States:

  • Monday, 27 April: Deportation Threat, Realities, and Practices in the United States (T. Golash-Boza)
  • Tuesday, 28 April: US Immigration Enforcement at a Crossroads: What Can we Learn from the ‘Secure Communities’ Program? (J. M. Pedroza)
  • Wednesday, 29 April: Immigrant Health in la jaula (M. E. Young)
  • Thursday, 30 April: ‘A Recession-Proof Industry’: Reagan’s Immigration Crisis and the Birth of the Neoliberal Security State (K. Shull)
  • Monday, 4 May: Punishing Immigrants: The Unconstitutional Practice of Punitive Immigration Detention in the United States (C. Wheatley)
  • Tuesday, 5 May: ‘From One Police State to Another’: Stories of Deportation from the United States to El Salvador (K. Birch-Maginot)
  • Wednesday, 6 May: Welcome Home? Deportation to El Salvador (K. Dingeman-Cerda and E. G. Kennedy)

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How to cite this blog post (Harvard style):

Golash-Boza, T. (2015) Deportation Threat, Realities, and Practices in the United States. Available at: (Accessed [date]).