If there is a single city which is emblematic of the USA's immigrant past and present – it is New York City. Its composition of dynamic and overlapping migrant communities which sustain its complex yet complimentary makeup has long been its most world renown characteristic.
This proud history of immigrant community contribution to the city's vibrancy has been checkered by interventions from immigration control authorities, bent on population regulation and transfer. A deportation regime of institutional systems and practices employed to discipline the minds and bodies of documented and undocumented immigrant labor has existed on this continent since the first colonists disembarked at Plymouth Rock. New York City has been a historic site of its enforcement - but also of resistance to it.
The 2016 election has ushered in a new era of brazen disregard for the rights of immigrants in the US - in particular those without official documentation. The deportation regimes nexus of institutions, laws and discursive practices, has been granted new resources to identify, detain, incarcerate and expel socially constructed undesirables. Despite New York’s status as a sanctuary city, and the tireless work of civil society organizations play in assisting undocumented migrants accessing justice, the threat of arrest and detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency is a very real. New York is home to over 500,000 undocumented migrants – deportation is a spectre which hangs over all of their heads withover 7,000 people per year being deported from New York City alone, most of them designated “criminal aliens”, and 9,500 from New York State.
The Social Anatomy of a Deportation Regime (SADR) is a research working group based out of The Center on Social Change and Transgressive Studies at the John Jay College for Criminal Justice in New York. It is comprised of academics and PhD students whose teaching and research focuses on crimmigration, border control, migrant detention, migrant resistance, as well as the class, gender and racial dynamics which interweave these social issues. Members of the group came together in the Summer of 2018 due to both the lack of in-depth analysis on the deportation regime in New York City, and coordinated content production on its various issues in pursuit of social change.
A key goal of this project is to make knowledge on the deportation regime available to all those mobilizing to resist - from immigration advocates, defense lawyers to community members directly or indirectly targeted by the regime. Events and academic material will be made accessible to the general public in order to facilitate debate and discussion on the key issues relating to the deportation regime. Field and archival knowledge will be made available to policy makers in their quest for a human rights based immigration reform building on successes within the current system, and advocating for more humane improvements and alterations.