A lecture by Natalie Cisneros, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Seattle University

What should be done about the “problem” of immigration? What do we mean when we talk about the “national immigration crisis”? The perceived “problem” of immigration and debates about how to solve it have taken center stage in national discourse leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Candidates across the political spectrum have made the supposedly urgent problem of immigration–and the intolerable presence of what some of them have described as dangerous “aliens”–central subjects of their campaigns. In my talk, I interrogate and critique this conception of immigration as a crisis or problem that must be solved. That is, instead of asking what can and should be done about the problem presented by “illegal aliens,” I suggest that we must ask where and through what means immigration has come to be understood as a problem in the contemporary United States context. I show how the so-called “problem” of immigration–and, indeed, the criminalization of immigration itself–are constructed by the functions of racist power. Ultimately, I argue that resisting racist oppression surrounding immigration means resisting racism in all of its forms.

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