Laren L. Martin
April 25, 2012
Critical security scholars have argued that biometric identity technologies, databanking, digital surveillance, and risk analysis reveal not a blockaded boundary but a border that follows transboundary migrants as they move within and between national territories. Managed through risk-based technologies, this networked, contingent border respatialises inclusion and exclusion, forming a border that is potentially everywhere and nowhere in particular. At the same time, immigration scholars have shown how immigration authorities deploy policing, inspection, and identification practices both within and beyond territorial boundaries, making life increasingly uncertain for noncitizens. In the US, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) authority to detain noncitizens has become a key spatial strategy in domestic counter-terrorism, interior immigration enforcement and border securitisation. Thus, transboundary migration and state responses to it trouble analytic distinctions between domestic and foreign policy, immigration and national security, the border and the interior. This paper builds on recent work in immigration geopolitics to analyse how detention, in particular, works to contain individual migrants and deter future migrants. Focusing on noncitizen family detention, this article situates US noncitizen detention in a broader milieu of pre-9/11 US immigration enforcement law and post-9/11 security practices. I then analyse how detention congeals a number of spatial strategies – remoteness, isolation, spatial ordering, inter-centre transfers, and criminalisation – that work to destabilise migrants’ support networks. Modulated with digitised border and identity surveillance technologies, detention foregrounds the persistence of disciplinary tactics in risk-dominated security regimes.