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Immigration legislation's panoptic gaze through a legal, theoretical and empirical lens

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From its founding, the United States has always claimed to be a nation of immigrants, yet in the past century the issue of immigration has become an even more contentious political issue surrounded by heated rhetoric filled with passion, but

From its founding, the United States has always claimed to be a nation of immigrants, yet in the past century the issue of immigration has become an even more contentious political issue surrounded by heated rhetoric filled with passion, but devoid of information. This thesis hopes to interrupt this rhetoric with a thorough analysis of immigration politics in Arizona through a legal lens, a theoretical lens and an empirical lens. While this thesis by no means looks at all facets of immigration politics, it informs in a manner that adds depth by providing information on the history behind, and legal arguments surrounding, the most contentious piece of immigration legislation in the United States at the moment. It then provides a theoretical analysis of how immigration legislation has created carceral networks and a panoptic gaze in Arizona specifically. It ends with a recommendation for further empirical research to partner with both the legal and theoretical frameworks. This thesis concludes that, fortified with over a century of case law, the plenary power doctrine is unwavering, and it makes federal immigration legislation an overly powerful tool in our political system from which the courts can offer little if any protection. Congress walks a fine line between preempting immigration regulation and devolving immigration regulation. SB 1070 and the 287(g) program are two contested areas of immigration regulation, which both exhibit and alter the power relationships of immigration politics in Arizona. Additionally, the application of the theories of Michel Foucault illuminates the power relationships at play in Arizona - from the power relationships among nation states in the broader political arena of geopolitics and colonialism to the face-to-face power relationship between a police officer and a stopped/detained/arrested person in a Foucauldian carceral network. This thesis ends with a call for empirical research that would yield an opportunity to analyze these relationships. This thesis discusses the importance of empirical study. It situates the study within the genre of surveillance studies and its theorists. It analyzes similar studies, and identifies the variables the most illuminating for this analysis. This thesis is written in the hope that a researcher will pick up where this thesis has left off.

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Date Created
2011

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Narrating public policy and identity: the case of SB 1070

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The stories that we tell matter. Public storytelling influences how we think about ourselves and how we treat others. This project explores how Arizona's Support our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (SB 1070) affected the development of social identities

The stories that we tell matter. Public storytelling influences how we think about ourselves and how we treat others. This project explores how Arizona's Support our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (SB 1070) affected the development of social identities such as citizen, immigrant (documented and undocumented), and public administrator through public storytelling. The question of how a public policy shapes identity development is relatively under-explored in the literature. Critical aspects of feminist and political theory demonstrate that identity is affected by discourses, such as performatives and accounts of oneself. A public policy authorizes public administrators to issue or demand discourses, such as performatives and accounts of oneself, from the individuals they encounter. Moreover, the text of a public policy resembles an account of oneself, delivered on behalf of a fabricated subject. In this project, the structural elements and storytelling techniques of SB 1070 are drawn out through tools derived from the field of narratology. When applied to the text of SB 1070, narratological tools reveal four major organizing principles or plots, all of which center on the identification and punishment of four types of individuals or organizations: (a) employers of undocumented immigrants; (b) transporters/shielders of undocumented immigrants; (c) undocumented immigrants; (d) state and local government agencies or officials that do not fully implement federal immigration law. An analysis of 321 news stories published after SB 1070's passage reveals that some plots resonated more than others with storytellers. The storytelling about SB 1070 also makes visible the policy's power as a discourse to unsettle the identities of citizens, immigrants (documented and undocumented), and public administrators. It also raises concerns about who bears the responsibility for the impact of policies like SB 1070, which have been passed but not implemented, and yet have a tangible impact on the lives of citizens and other residents. These findings suggest that not only can public policy unsettle social identities, but proposes complicated questions about who is responsible for the harm inflicted on others when a public policy is passed.

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Date Created
2014