Volume 26, Issue 1 p. 51-72
ARTICLE

Automobility, Immobility, Altermobility: Surviving and Resisting the Intensification of Immigrant Policing

ANGELA STUESSE

ANGELA STUESSE

University of South Florida

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MATHEW COLEMAN

MATHEW COLEMAN

Ohio State University

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First published: 09 April 2014
Citations: 125

Abstract

In the last five years, immigration enforcement in the United States has changed dramatically. The focus on federal border enforcement and workplace raids of yesteryear has been replaced by an intensification of state and local initiatives that rely on the daily policing of immigrant communities deep within the country's heartlands. Perhaps the most pervasive of these are the 287(g) and Secure Communities programs, which call upon local police and sheriff's offices to act as foot soldiers for the enforcement of federal immigration law. Fortified by the pervasive rollback by states of immigrant access to driver's licenses, these programs convert the mundane act of driving into the activity of highest risk for undocumented individuals. Getting pulled over for a minor traffic violation now typically results in detention and often deportation. Yet most immigrants—as most “Americans”—are compelled to drive on a daily basis in order to work, care for their children, and keep up their households. How do people cope with this reality, where driving is at once requisite and forbidden? Our unfolding research in Atlanta reveals the importance of social networks and new communication technologies, including social media, in immigrants' struggle to maintain a semblance of normalcy amid the intense criminalization of their communities. Through a discussion of the policing of automobility, its resulting immobility, and emerging forms of altermobility, this paper brings into ethnographic relief the recent words of one undocumented activist who declared, “the only secure community is an organized one.” [mobilities, immigration enforcement, undocumented immigrant, Atlanta]