- En attendant les papiers: l’affiliation bridée des migrants irréguliers aux États-Unis
- Volume | Issue number
- 22 | 87
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
In the United States as elsewhere, having no valid visa or residence permit has played a key role in the long-term civic precariousness of unauthorized transnational migrants. However, the distinct U.S. regime of illegality has allowed undocumented residents there to enjoy a range of citizenship rights contrasting with Western Europe’s more repressive regimes. Indeed, illegal immigrants have integrated U.S. society, bureaucratic system, and labor market in ways that cannot entirely be grasped by opposing formal exclusion on the one hand, and informal incorporation or subjective legitimacy on the other. Though inferior, their concrete citizenship condition includes many formal elements, at the local and national levels. Such an advanced normalization of illegality has increased the institutionalization of unauthorized migrants’ inferior status: never being completely "non-citizens," they have grown into a class of "sub-citizens," whose self-discipline, bureaucratic stability, and fiscal participation, have been encouraged by reasonable promises of amnesty. These promises were regularly reiterated but, since 1986 in the case of Mexicans, repeatedly postponed. In this context, "illegality" has not come up as an absolute marker of illegitimacy, but rather as one more handicap within a continuum of probationary citizenship. However, as irregular migrants sometimes have to commit more infractions in order to reach the most formal of common civic attributes, the social meaning of the latter has proved ultimately undetermined, for their holders can be framed as "more illegal" as much as "more legal."
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