With the ascendancy in the United States of the Homeland Security State, a peculiar ‘war against terrorism’ has been persistently waged against migrant non-citizens as its special targets. With utter rightlessness increasingly enforced as a defining horizon for migrants, the unprecedented upsurge of protest that took the country by storm in 2006, nonetheless, refigured the agonistic notion of ‘immigrants’ rights’ as a prominent feature of political debate. If the state and capital work assiduously to render migrant labour a tractable object, therefore, the robust defiance of migrant workers (both the undocumented and guestworkers) audaciously reaffirms the primacy of labour as subject. Indeed, migrant workers have asserted their autonomy and prerogative through insubordinate acts calling attention to the mere corporeal fact of their deportable presence. Thus, the insurgent presence of migrant bodies emerges as a palpably corporeal and spatial form of subjectivity, and all the substantive social relationality that it manifests.
By Nicholas De Genova, 2009