Political Science Faculty Publications and Presentations

Raids at Work: Latinx Immigrant Labor Precarity and the Spectacle of ICE Worksite Enforcement Raids

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Why does Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conduct worksite raids when employers are rarely ever charged with hiring undocumented immigrant workers? This article shows how exploitative labor conditions and ICE worksite enforcement raids exist in a mutually reinforcing feedback loop that (re)produces precarity for undocumented workers. Analysis of interviews from the Immigrant Workers Project (IWP) Survey of 2018, a community-based participatory action research project in Northeast Ohio, reveals that individuals directly and indirectly impacted by ICE worksite raids understand and experience these operations within the broader context of anti-immigrant labor discrimination and worker exploitation. Although previous scholarship has theorized the role of “spectacle” in various aspects of immigration enforcement a critical analysis of media coverage, public records, and government documents shows how government agencies and the media choreograph worksite raids for maximum public spectacle. The underlying logics of this immigration enforcement tactic highlight how undocumented immigrant workers exist simultaneously as individuals whose labor is deregulated but whose presence is hyper-regulated.


© The Author(s) 2023


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Political Research Quarterly