BORDER CLOSURE AND HYPER-SURVEILLANCE
The virtual discussion will analyze the impacts of border closure, the discourses that support these measures in all countries of the continent, and hyper-surveillance over different migrant groups, especially on cross-border populations and those in need of special protection.In addition, the virtual discussion will reflect on the possible changes emerging from the pandemic as a result of border control in the region.
The global pandemic has justified a perverse juncture between public health policies and the politics of mobility in diverse national spaces across the Americas. This has resulted in the state and mass media associating the figure of the foreigner with the notion of “pest.” Thus, migrant populations – even more if they are irregularized migrants – are perceived as a menace to public health and as presumed vectors of contagion. Amidst economic collapse, the figure of the foreigner is perceived as a “public charge” for migrant receiving states. Under this framework, strengthening border security and intensifying internal control mechanisms is legitimized and justified by the state. As of March 2020, the United States invoked the Public Health Service Act of 1944 resulting in legally exceptional measures that prevent entry of individuals who pose a “risk” to public health. Occurring concurrently with the U.S. militarization of the US-Mexico border, the pandemic has suspended asylum applications, expedite deportations, and denied the entrance of asylum seekers. Though the United States represents an extreme case of border closure, border control and closure measures have been adopted globally, making a significant impact on the life of asylum seekers, refugees, and irregularized migrants in transit.
In the context of the pandemic, border closure and hyper-surveillance disproportionately effects irregularized migrants and persons in transit. Tourists, students, and businessmen have been restricted from the free return and entry to their home countries across Americas, with exception to those who took humanitarian flights. The Argentinean provides a case of exception as the country has implemented “agreed-upon deportations” directed to Korean and Europeans tourists who breached the strict quarantine imposed.