Situational triggers and protective locations: conceptualising the salience of deportability in everyday life

Published by Laura E. Enriquez and Daniel Millán (Equal authorship)

Previous research has documented the severe consequences of deportation and conceptualized deportability as a key factor that produces and sustains immigrant illegality. Drawing on interview and survey data with 1.5 generation undocumented young adults in California, we explore the mechanisms that structure the salience of deportability in everyday life. We argue that deportability is a situationally triggered fear that is reduced when individuals occupy protective spatial and social locations that limit their exposure to immigration enforcement mechanisms. Drawing on the case of Californian undocumented young adults, we demonstrate that the more protective locations one occupies, the less likely they are to experience their own deportability as a salient dimension of illegality. In this case, deportability mostly emerges as a fear of family separation and preoccupation with undocumented parents who are less likely to occupy protective locations. Our findings nuance theoretical conceptualizations of the role deportability plays in constructing immigrant illegality.

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