Low-income communities of color in the U.S. today are often vulnerable to displacement, forced relocation away from the places they call home. Displacement takes many forms, including immigration enforcement, mass incarceration, gentrification, and unwanted development. This dissertation juxtaposes two different examples of displacement, emphasizing similarities in lived experiences. Mixed methods including document-based research, map-making, visual ethnography, participant observation, and interviews were used to examine two case studies in Phoenix, Arizona: (1) workplace immigration raids, which overwhelmingly target Latino migrant workers; and (2) the Loop 202 freeway, which would disproportionately impact Akimel O'odham land. Drawing on critical geography, critical ethnic studies, feminist theory, carceral studies, and decolonial theory, this research considers: the social, economic, and political causes of displacement, its impact on the cultural and social meanings of space, the everyday practices that allow people to survive economically and emotionally, and the strategies used to organize against relocation.
Although raids are often represented as momentary spectacles of danger and containment, from a worker's perspective, raids are long trajectories through multiple sites of domination. Raids' racial geographies reinforce urban segregation, while traumatization in carceral space reduces the power of Latino migrants in the workplace. Expressions of care among raided workers and others in jail and detention make carceral spaces more livable, and contribute to movement building and abolitionist sentiments outside detention.
The Loop 202 would result in a loss of native land and sovereignty, including clean air and a mountain sacred to O'odham people. While the proposal originated with corporate desire for a transnational trade corridor, it has been sustained by local industry, the perceived inevitability of development, and colonial narratives about native people and land. O'odham artists, mothers, and elders counter the freeway's colonial logics through stories that emphasize balance, collective care over individual profit, and historical consciousness.
Both raids and the freeway have been contested by local grassroots movements. Through political education, base-building, advocacy, lawsuits, and protest strategies, community organizations have achieved changes in state practice. These movements have also worked to create alternative spaces of safety and home, rooted in interpersonal care and Latino and O'odham culture.