(Re)Mapping the Border: Mobility and Survival Across a Geography of Borders

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This dissertation examines the San Diego border region to understand migrant construction worker’s mobility, autonomy, and labor power. San Diego County is enclosed by a network of internal immigration checkpoints

This dissertation examines the San Diego border region to understand migrant construction worker’s mobility, autonomy, and labor power. San Diego County is enclosed by a network of internal immigration checkpoints and roving patrol operations that constrain migrant worker’s labor power to the territorial boundaries of the county. The project uses ‘differential mobility’ as a strategic concept to highlight the ways in which borders differentiate, sort, and rank among noncitizen migrant construction workers to meet local labor demands. The project reveals worker’s collective struggle to evade and cross border enforcement operations to maintain consistent employment across a border region that is marked by internal immigration checkpoints, roving patrol stops, and state surveillance measures. In addition, the project examines migrant men’s emerging workplace narratives about the body and penetration that symbolize workers’ understanding of social domination in a global economy. These expressions open up a critical space from which migrant men begin to critique a global economy that drives men northbound for employment and southbound for retirement—inhibiting a future that is neither entirely in the United States or Mexico.