Amy Reed-Sandoval of University of Texas El Paso will give a philosophy lecture on April 19th 4-6pm in the Whitsett Room. This event is the first in a series of lectures on the theme of the ethics and politics of immigration and trade in the age of Trump. Reed-Sandoval works in political philosophy (particularly the political philosophy of immigration), Latin American and Latin@ philosophy, and philosophies of social identity (with emphasis on race, gender and class). She is working on a book entitled ‘Illegal’ Identity: Race, Class and Immigration Justice. The title of her talk is "Reproduction as Resistance at the Mexico-U.S. Border: A Philosophical and Ethnographic Assessment." An abstract is included below.
"Reproduction as Resistance at the Mexico-U.S. Border: A Philosophical and Ethnographic Assessment."
On January 31st, 2017, Donald Trump ordered the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department to prepare a report detailing “the steps they are taking to combat the birth tourism phenomenon”. In so doing, he clearly made reference to the fact that many women from countries such as Mexico travel to the United States to give birth to babies who will then be granted U.S. citizenship as stipulated in the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Of course, attacks on this legal practice are nothing new; “anchor baby” rhetoric has long been a core part of anti-Mexican, anti-Latina/o, and anti-immigrant speech and propaganda in the United States. Furthermore, the United States government is legally authorized to deny entry to visibly pregnant non-citizen women if they are deemed “likely to become a public charge”—a discretionary power that has been abused historically as outlined by Eithne Luibheid.
In this paper I employ the tools of philosophy and ethnography to explore, from the perspective of the women who do so, the act of crossing the Mexico-U.S. border while visibly pregnant in order to give birth in the United States. I draw from ethnographic research (particularly semi-structured interviews) I have conducted in December 2016 and January 2017 in Ciudad Juarez and El Paso with women who have crossed the border while pregnant and for this purpose, as well as with prenatal care providers (particularly midwives and OB-GYNs) who serve them on both sides of the border. I argue that the so-called “birth tourism” to which Trump refers is, in fact, is an act of resistance against gendered/sexist anti-immigrant policy in the United States. To make this argument I draw from James Scott’s theory of resistance in Weapons of the Weak, as well as Mariana Ortega’s work in In Between on the interconnectedness of “home,” the “politics of location,” the “multiplicity of the self,” and Latina identity.