Racism and Borders: Representation, Repression, Resistance

By Jeff Shantz | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION: CONTEMPORARY BORDER STRUGGLES

Growing up in a border city (Windsor, Ontario—right across the Detroit River from Detroit, Michigan), I have had my share of strange, even startling, experiences at the border. Over the years, I have seen a range of interactions between travelers, typically working class, and border security agents, immigration officers and various other State representatives of Canada and the United States. I have also observed and experienced first-hand the changes in border security, especially the tightening of border policies and the increasingly restrictive approach to border crossing, even where it involves the movement of working folks doing a little shopping or sightseeing. These policy shifts have been accompanied by a pervading sense of fear and panic, approaching paranoid levels, at and around borders.

One of the more memorable of personal border crossing experiences occurred a few years after the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). On one attempt to enter Detroit to take in a Tigers baseball game, I was pulled aside by the border officer and sent to the waiting room where people were being processed, suspended in the nowhere land between here and there, between passage and detention. At one end of the room, taking up most of the wall space was a large, framed NAFTA document proclaiming the supposed benefits of the trade agreement and lauding its contributions to the easier flow of goods and services across the border into the US. It would ease the movement of people between Canada, the US, and Mexico. The promise of the relaxed border, a boon to all. Ironically, however, this mounted wall document was hanging, almost mockingly, over rows of people for whom the border was in no way

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