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Volume 29 • Number 2

April 2015



On the Militarization of Borders and the Juridical Right to Exclude

by Grant J. Silva

on Sunday July 28, 2013, at the San Ysidro port of entry, the border crossing between Tijuana, Mexico, and San diego, California, a gathering of about one hundred immigrant rights activists and allies (many minors, some undocumented) protested the recent rise in deportations; the increasing incarceration, criminalization and detention of undocumented immigrants; and the militarization of the southwestern segment of the United States border. What started as a simple march quickly escalated into mayhem when protesters approached a small fence providing space for pedestrians to exit the edifice housing the actual port of entry. What happened next serves as a visceral reminder, an almost perfect example, of the recent response to migratorially disobedient, "unwanted" immigrants: as if taking a cue from popular demands that call for the construction of bigger and better barriers along the US-Mexican border, United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents literally wielded a small metal fence, the kind that is seen at concerts or parades, to push back and pin down protesters. While it is unclear if the protesters actually crossed the barrier meant to provide ample space for travelers—subsequent explanations for the CBP’s response make note of protesters sitting on the wrong side of the barricade without a permit—the brutal and aggressive reaction was all too apparent. Several protesters were dragged, injured, pinned on the ground, and then arrested. With the help of a metallic fence, officers of the Department of Homeland Security forcefully ended the civil protest, an event that stands as a microcosm, if you will, for what is actually taking place on the US border with Mexico.

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ISSN: 2152-0542