The Parallels between Mass Incarceration and Mass Deportation: An Intersectional Analysis of State Repression


In the spring of 2014, President Obama’s administration reached a landmark of over 2 million deportations—more in under six years than the sum total of all deportations prior to 1997. Mass deportation has not affected all communities equally: the vast majority of deportees are Latin American and Caribbean men. Today, nearly 90 percent of deportees are men, and over 97 percent of deportees are Latin American or Caribbean. This article explores the global context under which mass deportation has occurred and draws parallels with mass incarceration. Whereas other scholars have characterized mass deportation as a tool of social or migration control, this article argues that mass deportation is best understood as a racialized and gendered tool of state repression implemented in a time of crisis. I argue that the confluence of four factors has created the conditions of possibility for mass deportation from the United States: (1) nearly all deportees are Latin American and Caribbean men; (2) the rise of a politics of fear in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11th; (3) the global financial crisis; and (4) the utility of deportees.

Last updated on 07/17/2022