The Border in New York: Performances of Illegal Immigration and Legal Consciousness
Discussions about migration and reterritorialization necessarily address questions of cultural, ethnic, and racial difference. Investigating performances of, by, and about immigrants crossing the Mexican–US border tend, understandably, to focus on such questions as well. Recent studies confirm that ethnicity and race anchor much of the conversation, especially in relation to issues of performance and identity. Often marginalized or altogether ignored as ethnicity and race take center stage are questions of law (1). It is the law, after all, that creates the borders around which migration can be understood. As Susan Bibler Coutin explains, “Immigration and immigration law are almost inseparable, as law defines the legitimacy and nature of movements and persons… Without law, the movements that are deemed immigration might be perceived and characterized differently”(2). I seek here to draw explicit attention to questions of law and to the ways in which legal categorization functions in the construction and performance of identity.
The increasingly popular figure of the “illegal” immigrant in the US cultural landscape offers an opportunity to observe law’s capacity to shape identity and practices of belonging, particularly if we hone in on the idea of legal consciousness. Following recent shifts in studies of law and society, legal anthropologists and sociologists have proposed “legal consciousness” as a way to understand how ordinary individuals think about the law and live daily lives within and against the constructs of the law (3). Legal consciousness becomes a constructive force, one that shapes the way people make sense of their world and determine their place as active agents (4). As performances of illegal immigration infiltrate more and more deeply into a US legal consciousness, the figures at hand, most often Mexican, reinforce and naturalize divisions between the two neighboring nations while simultaneously troubling the legitimacy that creates a border in the first place. Three recent performances of the Mexican–US border in New York City serve here to explore a community’s legal consciousness (5). They highlight the “gradations” of existence and nonexistence that legal systems create (6), as well as the power of performance to interrupt such gradations. Together, the examples remind us that legal identities are critical to the examination of migrating cultural practices. After all, those practices emerge from and in turn affect an understanding of the world grounded on complex legal consciousnesses.
Coutin, in her studies of undocumented workers, proposes “spaces of nonexistence” as the domains occupied by “legal nonsubjects,” individuals who are either unrecognized or disallowed by the law. Such spaces and their inhabitants “both [are] and [are] not there” (7) Because physical and legal presence can be simultaneously conflated and disjointed, an individual can participate in multiple aspects of a community while not legally belonging to it. A physical location, like an office or a school, can likewise home legally sanctioned persons alongside those deemed illegal. Undocumented immigrants are therefore constantly negotiating their presence in the United States, fully participating in their communities as employees, friends, neighbors, family members, churchgoers, consumers, etc., but also regularly pushed “underground,” into an “otherworld” where their existence must be either denied or faked (8). Importantly, this tense negotiation and the violence—symbolic and physical—that marks spaces of nonexistence inevitably create a contradictory legal consciousness for both “legal” and “illegal” subjects (9). The law becomes both an oppressive force to be battled and a simultaneous beacon of hope that can provide an exit from nonexistence. The law marks bodies in ways that both challenge and reinforce notions of cultural, ethnic, and racial difference. With her theory of nonexistence, Coutin thus challenges students of performance to question how enactment and representation create spaces—albeit fleeting—of existence, and by extension, how these spaces transform legal consciousness.
When hundreds of thousands of workers came together in May 1, 2006 to commemorate the “Day without an Immigrant,” group action served to effect a temporary space of existence for undocumented laborers (10). In this case, a performance of absence proved central to the event: by not going into work, by not going to school, by not buying any goods, participants sought to demonstrate the vital role they play in daily US life. Such an ostensible absence was accompanied by a simultaneous, forceful display of existence. In New York City, workers and their families, in addition to supporters of their cause, flooded the streets and came together in designated areas like Union Square, before marching together downtown to Foley Square (11). Calls for recognition—blatant protests against the push into spaces of nonexistence—were central to the event. “Únete pueblo, únete a gritar, contra las redadas tenemos que luchar,” “aplaudan, aplaudan, no dejen de aplaudir, contra las redadas nos vamos a unir,” “Ya van a ver…ya van a ver…Cuando los latinos estemos en poder” (12): collective cries such as these, accompanied by drums and whistles, emphasized a dire need to be seen and heard, to counteract the invisibility that a lack of proper documentation causes. Emerging from a daily routine requiring the maintenance of a low profile, demonstrators enthusiastically raised their voices and physically filled an impressive space.
The “Day without an Immigrant” endeavored, too, to redefine, even eliminate, “illegality” as a marker of identity. At the core of the protest was a performance of patriotism and of productivity, an attempt to recast so-called illegal immigrants in the US national imagination strictly as industrious workers. By choosing International Workers’ Day as the occasion to perform immigration, participants rallied around the concept of work as their unifying mark of identity. “Producir y trabajar…para los migrantes…es la unidad familiar” was a repeated slogan heard on May 1. “We are the true Americans. We’re the future of America,” explained an Ecuadorian carpenter as he touted his contributions to the United States’ progress; “We love USA” read one of many large placards (13). Especially in New York, where the demonstration and parades included “Mexican day laborers and landscapers from New Jersey and Connecticut march[ing] alongside Senegalese street vendors, Chinese waiters, Puerto Rican independistas, Bangladeshis shop owners, Caribbean nannies, Uruguayan musicians, Dominican busboys, and revolutionary Filipinos” (14), labor surfaced as the key component in creating a sense of belonging and community, trumping signs of nation and of legal status as sources for identity formation. “No existen seres humanos ilegales,” offered another widespread chant.
These explicit attempts to battle legal categorization stressed at the same time the power of the law to dictate and shape identity and agency. As law professors David Engel and Frank Munger remind us, we cannot approach the sense of self without considering one’s “perception of boundaries” (15). They echo scholars like Patricia Ewick and Susan Silbey, whose work on the legal consciousness of everyday people demonstrates how the law and legality are inseparable from notions of who we are, where we belong, and what we can do (16). On the one hand, the performance of presence on May 1 demonstrated all too well how difficult it is for undocumented migrants to fully leave spaces of nonexistence. Talking to the press about the demonstration, many participants decided not to offer any last names (17). Understandably, they wanted to remain individually anonymous even as they performed a collective call for recognition. Although they were clearly fighting to emerge “from shadows” (18), demonstrators could do so much more easily under the cover of a huge crowd. On the other hand, the performance required a strong sense of the law’s allowances and respect for the rights that the law permits, even for those standing outside or against the law. Participants knew that they had a right to boycott, a right to assemble, a right to express themselves. In fact, neither the performance in New York nor any other across the nation resulted in major conflicts with legal authorities (19). The “Day without an Immigrant” was thus a performance that both countered an oppressive legal system and affirmed the rights allowed by that same system. Similarly, while they campaigned for el derecho a la mobilidad, the demonstrators’ performance was ironically steeped in the notion of nationhood. Flags from a huge array of countries surrounded and often enveloped the thousands of bodies gathered in the street (20). Thus, as the performance called attention to the injustices associated with the crossing of national borders, it was symbols of the legitimacy of these borders that most spectacularly represented immigration.
With En ningún lugar de la frontera – Nowhere on the Border, playwright Carlos Lacámara and director José Zayas trouble this neatness of the border and of nation. Robert Weber Federico’s set for the production at New York’s Repertorio Español relies on a handful of boulders, some dried twigs, and a large white canvas to represent a location unrecognizable as either the United States or Mexico (21). The play interlaces the story of Roberto, a Mexican man traversing the border region in search of his daughter Pilar, with the woman’s harrowing journey into the United States. Zayas tackles the piece’s back-and-forth structure by having the actors involved in one plotline remain onstage during several scenes dealing with the second one. In this way, the plasticity of the set—it must instantaneously transform from Mexico to the US, from day to night, from past to present—draws attention to the arbitrary nature of legal borders. For the audience, the border emerges as a layered space, in which those figures crossing legally determined lines step in and out of focus, in and out of presence. En ningún lugar de la frontera thus also illustrates the concrete realities that legal labels manufacture, particularly in the creation of spaces of existence and nonexistence and the tension created as characters move in and out of these.
Pilar’s clandestine journey into the United States, like an attempt to cross the River Styx, brings her into a veritable netherworld in which her humanity is tested. In many respects, she ceases to be “Pilar,” the pillar of strength whom Roberto so proudly named, and becomes another “pollito” in the eyes of her smuggler, another “illegal” in the eyes of Gary, a member of the vigilante Homeland Patrol Project. Individual names, like those guarded the “Day without an Immigrant,” again lose prevalence in the spaces of nonexistence. More crucially, Pilar enters a space seemingly crawling with nonhuman spirits: her smuggler warns of demonios, hombres pequeños, la Cabeza Prieta, el Chupacabras, and espíritus haunting those crossing the desert (40). These “things” with awful heads and teeth surface precisely when the sun is brightest. Of course, the intense heat and light are to blame for the appearances, but En ningún lugar de la frontera in this way illustrates the undocumented migrants’ need for shadows and hiding places. It is only in the dark that they can be themselves. Even if the journey is completed, those who cross illegally into the United States face the potential to disappear. Pilar decides to traverse the border precisely because her husband has been absent for years. She abhors the checks he sends because they are a poor substitute for a partner with an actual presence in her life (31), she knows the excuses given for a delayed return to Mexico are lies (9), and she can no longer even remember what sex feels like or what his voice sounds like (49, 50). In every way, Naldo has been sucked into a space of nonexistence, and he is, not the exception, but the rule. We learn through Roberto’s stories that when Pilar’s friend left with her family to “el Norte,” she was also forever lost (43). Pilar wrote letter after letter, but without a known address—a common characteristic of the undocumented’s extralegal lifestyle (22) —Roberto had no choice but to hold on to the correspondence. Moreover, in the play’s present, Roberto finds himself searching for his lost daughter. He is detained in his travels by the body of an unidentified young woman. Although he does not think it is Pilar’s, the body marks the space, as do the other bodies we are told can be found throughout the desert, with a ghostly presence. Zayas’s staging again draws attention to nonexistence, as the audience does not see any physical bodies. Only by play’s end, when the corpse is finally and tragically identified as Pilar’s, does the woman return somewhat to existence. Roberto and Gary use large stones to build a cross. The physical mark returns some permanence to a body that has been mutilated by the sun and wild animals, a body that has been disappeared by the law (23). “Necesito marcar este lugar,” Roberto pleads (66). An attempt to designate presence ends the piece, but it is quite clear that such an effort is possible only because Pilar’s life has been sacrificed.
What is of interest here is how performance again manages to summon into existence those very figures that the law pushes into nonexistence. Unlike the mass spectacle of the “Day without an Immigrant,” Pilar’s story offers an individualized, emotionally charged story for an audience to experience, and the play clearly uses the character of the young Mexican woman as a means to protest the current realities surrounding illegal immigration. By providing compelling and logical reasons for Pilar’s and her companion’s choices to leave Mexico, the playwright alerts us to the need to reconsider the law. A change in legal status would have saved Pilar. Roberto’s visa offers him some safety in the US desert, allowing him, at minimum, to use the Border Patrol as a resource rather than as an enemy (24). While they thus have clear material effects, legal classifications are also random and almost illogical in the world of En ningún lugar de la frontera. Roberto’s visa, while helpful, is also unreliable; Gary, for one, cannot distinguish a “real” one from a “fake” (24). Pilar and her companion, Jesús, do not even notice that they have crossed the border; their smuggler remarks, “No esta marcada en la arena” (29). There is no way to truly discern whether one is in one country or the other, and in this liminal space, we all should be seen as equals. This is the lesson that Roberto and Gary learn; they find clear common ground as fathers, as men, and as victims of failing economies. And this is the idea given life by a production that places documented and undocumented characters side-by-side on one same set.
En ningún lugar de la frontera, as a professional endeavor mounted in New York City, must by necessity bring into existence so-called illegal characters by working only with artists who are legally allowed to do so. As members of various unions and organizations, as professionals who depend on increasing the reach of their presence in their respective fields, the actors, director, designers, crew members, and playwright involved in this piece can operate only as spokespersons or ventriloquists. Though not quite a case of “wetback-face,” if I may coin a term that captures a dynamic of a member from a dominant group representing a marginalized Other, the production does draw attention in this way to the law’s divisive power. Gary and Roberto manage to find common ground quite easily throughout the play. The point that cultural, ethnic, and racial differences can and will be transcended through communication is made quite effectively, as is the fact that Pilar, traveling without documents, will not fare as well as her father, traveling with a visa. Arbitrary as the allotment of legal permissions or drawing of borders may be, those distinctions will prove a matter of life and death. That the performance at the Repertorio itself can only be brought into existence by individuals labeled “legal” underscores the plight of those it is attempting to represent. On a most basic level, it reminds us that the “Day without an Immigrant” is an exceptional performance, as the ability to perform is itself contingent on legal existence. But the play also serves to trouble perceptions about the term “illegal.” Within the fiction of the play, Gary must negotiate an is-he-or-isn’t-he debate in regards to Roberto’s status as a Mexican man in the United States. Within the frame of the performance, and especially given the production’s attempt at ostensibly realistic casting and acting style, the audience is, or might be, challenged to question assumptions about undocumented migrants. This is an important challenge because, as Coutin alerts us, “U.S. policy has increasingly made private citizens accountable for the legal status of those with whom they interact” (24).
When the College Republican club of New York University sponsored a “Catch the Illegal Immigrant” game in February 2007, such assumptions were confronted much more directly. Again, the “illegal immigrant” at the center of the role-playing exercise became a figure played by “legal” actors, and like in En ningún lugar de la frontera, the performance of the undocumented played with the borders between existence and nonexistence. The highly controversial game, which prompted much criticism but also much dialogue as supposedly planned by the student group, was quite simple: interested students signed up to “be” immigration enforcement agents at a table in Washington Square Park; at an appointed hour, a member of the club would walk around the campus wearing an “illegal immigrant” sign; whichever agent spotted the sign-bearer first would get a $50 gift card (25). However, the simple hunt proved almost impossible, as hundreds of protesters wearing signs flooded the area. Many donned the same label of “Illegal immigrant,” while others chose signs like “Catch me if you can” and “Who are you calling immigrants, pilgrims?” By labeling themselves “illegal,” protestors not only expressed their solidarity for undocumented workers but also provided a physical presence to counter the political nonexistence associated with non-legal immigration. From several interviews and reports (26), it is clear that the majority of protesters were not themselves undocumented aliens; the Republican club member cast as the object of the hunt certainly was not one either. Therefore, their performances as “the illegal” facing imminent capture also served, like those in En ningún lugar de la frontera, to redraw boundaries. Legal identities, after all, can be altered instantaneously: one may be an “illegal resident” one minute and be granted legal status the next (27). What the performances at hand demonstrated, based merely on the wearing of a label, is precisely the ease with which legal categories could be transcended and the danger of connecting a label like “illegal” with a particular group. The Republican club drew plenty of fire for promoting the game solely with images of ostensibly Mexican immigrants. So, the veritable explosion of different bodies and faces standing in for the “illegal” during the game effectively combated the stereotypical images of Mexican figures used prior to the event.
Moreover, and perhaps more interestingly, the appearance of so many unregistered “illegal immigrants”—from the perspective of those few actually playing the game—made present and explicit the bodies of those who in reality must live in spaces of nonexistence. The few “agents” trying to spot a single illegal immigrant were forced to navigate an ocean of marked bodies performing “illegality.” As a result, the chase proved virtually impossible. Theoretically then, the NYU exercise demonstrated that a concerted effort to emerge out of legal nonexistence collectively and manifestly could transcend the very boundaries which dictate existence in the first place. Unlike the legal demonstration of the “Day without an Immigrant” or the legal performance of En ningún lugar de la frontera, the performance of existence that occurred during the “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” game violated and in fact shattered the rules of that game. When protesters invaded the space and flaunted their presence, the lines established by the Republican club for the exercise became meaningless since the purported criminal to be caught lost the single identifiable trait to differentiate him/her from the crowd. The “illegal” performance in this case, based on very visible labels and thus brash in its commitment to avoid nonexistence, managed to upset the logic of the labels in the first place.
Together, these three performances of the border prompt several interrelated questions, especially as they all call attention to the role that law plays in shaping identity and agency. Is performance an efficacious strategy to combat the forced spaces of nonexistence that our current system of immigration creates? While the “Day without an Immigrant” offered a mass spectacle to give concreteness to the multitude of workers who live and work in US cities, it is sadly the case that not much changed legally after May 1, 2006 and that subsequent performances have been less spectacular (28). The “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” game, alternatively, provided at least a model for group performance to reshape the legal landscape, even if it remains only a theoretical option for action at this point. En ningún lugar de la frontera—and other plays and narratives like it—raise awareness about the spaces of nonexistence, especially for people who are lucky enough not to be trapped in them. Importantly, as Ewick and Silbey demonstrate, the telling of stories is an integral part in the creation of an individual and a group legal consciousness (29). Therefore, we must consider that what we deem legal and illegal is itself shaped by the narratives that we encounter, and that all three performances challenge the community to think about, reconsider, or confirm ideas about the law. This brings us to a second important pair of questions: what happens when performances of the border hone in on Mexican figures as illegal border-crossers, and what happens to the performances and cultural practices that travel across such an (il)legally defined line? Even as the “Day without an Immigrant” in New York City—with its myriad of flags and wealth of languages at play (30) —staged the multiple points of contact that the US “border” entails, it is clear that in the national legal consciousness, illegal immigration is almost always, if not exclusively, associated with Mexico. We can easily see the biased undertones in an endeavor like the “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” game, which not only paints the illegal immigrant as a Mexican individual, but makes such a figure the object of a pleasure hunt. But sympathetic and well-intentioned performances of the border serve equally to cement a connection between Mexican identity and illegality in the US. En ningún lugar de la frontera is far from an exception, and the play stands here as a token example of the many performances of the border that can be seen in New York and throughout the US (31). Thus, we must be careful to consider how such a play, as it makes a strong case against a label like “illegal” to describe immigrants, simultaneously rehearses stories that feed our legal consciousness and promote a view of crossing the Mexican–US border, as well as cultural practices associated with the border, as illegal and surreptitious acts. If the border transforms in our collective imagination into a space of nonexistence, does that inevitably change its agents and performances? More broadly, how do spaces of nonexistence alter legal consciousness and the group identities that ensue? “A Day without an Immigrant” suggests that legal status might prove a more critical marker of identity than ethnic, racial, or national categories, a point that En ningún lugar de la frontera reiterates through the staging of disappearance associated with nonexistence. The NYU game equally offers that legal labels, while much more easily mutable than other individual characteristics, are the key to maintaining or destabilizing order. I urge us then to pay heed to legal differences as we approach questions of identity, community, and migration. It is the law that directly shapes the spaces from which agents can perform.
(1) Two recent titles, for instance, alert us to the prevalence of race and ethnicity in the conversation: Alicia Arrizón, Queering Mestizaje: Transculturation and Performance (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006); and Jon Rossini, Contemporary Latina/o Theater: Wrighting Ethnicity (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2008). While Rossini certainly calls attention to both undocumented immigration and to issues of criminality, he nonetheless marginalizes the law as a guiding force around which identity and ethnicity can be understood. In discussing the complexity of Latina/o racial identity, for example, Rossini draws attention to scholarship stressing issues of “social class, language, phenotypic variation within families, and neighborhood socialization” (3). Legal issues become implicit in the explicit categories at hand. Arrizón, in her earlier study of Latina performance, similarly dismisses law as a phenomenon requiring explicit attention: “My discussion examines the dynamics of gender, ethnicity, race, class, and sexuality” (xviii). The law again loses a central role in these dynamics. Latina Performance: Traversing the Stage by Alicia Arrizón (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999).
(2) Susan Bibler Coutin, Legalizing Moves: Salvadoran Immigrants’ Struggle for U.S. Residency (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000), 10.
(3) Laura Beth Nielsen, “Situating Legal Consciousness: Experiences and Attitudes of Ordinary Citizens about Law and Street Harassment,” Law & Society Review 34, no. 4 (2000): 1058.
(4) Sally Engel Merry, perhaps the most commonly associated scholar with the concept of legal consciousness, defines it as “the way people conceive of the ‘natural’ and normal way of doing things, their habitual patterns of talk and action, and their commonsense understanding of the world.” Merry, Getting Justice and Getting Even: Legal Consciousness among Working-Class Americans (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 5.
(5) Patricia Ewick and Susan S. Silbey stress that stories—and by my extension, performances—offer both “expressions and forms of legal consciousness.” Ewick and Silbey, The Common Place of Law: Stories from Everyday Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 29.
(6) Coutin, Legalizing Moves, 27.
(7) Ibid., 27, 29.
(8) Ibid., 40, 34.
(9) Ibid., 28, 38, 11-12.
(10) The “Day without an Immigrant” in 2006 was a nationwide event, with demonstrations and boycotts in dozens of cities. See, for just two of many examples, Randal C. Archibald, “Immigrants Take to U.S. Streets in Show of Strength,” New York Times, 2 May 2006; and Lisa Colagrossi, “Immigrants turning out for nationwide boycott & day of protests,” ABC News, 1 May 2006, http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local&id=4132072 (accessed 18 July 2008).
(11) There are, of course, a multitude of newspaper reports, media clips, and online posts about the event, which drew great attention both city- and nationwide. For a “call to action” and program of the events in New York City, see http://www.leftshift.org/may1/2006may1.shtml (accessed 31 August 2008); for one of several short video clips of the event available online, see http://www.archive.org/details/Nathanialfreitas-ADayWithoutAnImmigrantMay12006836 (accessed 18 August 2008); for reports about the NYC developments, see for example Sarah Ferguson, “A Day Without White People,” Village Voice (New York), 25 April 2006, http://www.villagevoice.com/2006-04-25/news/a-day-without-white-people/ (accessed 31 August 2008); Jarrett Murphy, “High Prices on Fordham Road,” Village Voice (New York), 25 April 2006, http://www.villagevoice.com/2006-04-25/news/high-prices-on-fordham-road/ (accessed 31 August 2008); and Derek Rose, “May Day on Streets,” Daily News (New York), 1 May 2006, 2.
(12) The various chants and slogans to which I refer in this paper were printed in a flier that circulated among the thousands of demonstrators in Union Square.
(13) Ferguson, “A Day Without White People.”
(15) David M. Engel and Frank W. Munger, Rights of Inclusion: Law and Identity in the Life Stories of Americans with Disabilities (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 40.
(16) Ewick and Silbey, The Common Place of Law, especially chapter 3, “The Social Construction of Legality,” 33-53.
(17) Ferguson, “A Day Without White People.”
(18) I borrow the phrase from the article in the Philadelphia Inquirer describing a similar demonstration. Gaiutra Bahadur, “Workers Step from Shadows,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 15 February 2006, A1.
(19) Ferguson, “A Day Without White People”; Robert Lusetich, “Migrants March for Their American Dream,” The Australian, 3 May 2006, 10.
(20) The use of flags at the event was controversial, and in fact, in other cities, foreign flags were conspicuously more absent and US flags much more visible. As an appeal to the US government for legal recognition, the waving of the US flag also reinforces the legitimacy of the categories in contention.
(21) En ningún lugar de la frontera premiered in the fall of 2007 at the Repertorio Español, where it continues to play now. References to the play, noted parenthetically, come from an unpublished manuscript I obtained at the Repertorio.
(22) Coutin, Legalizing Moves, 30.
(23) Coutin relies on Diana Taylor’s Disappearing Acts to stress the violence inherent in the spaces of nonexistence and the law’s ability to force individuals to disappear. Coutin, Legalizing Moves, 38.
(24) Ibid., 11.
(25) See, for instance, Margot Adler, “NYU Immigration Game Draws Protests, NPR, 23 February 2007, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7565613 (accessed 30 August 2008); “New York University Illegal Immigrant Game Has Some Calling Event ‘Racist,’” foxnews.com, 22 February 2007, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,253372,00.html (accessed 30 August 2008); “Hundreds Protest NYU Republicans’ ‘Find the Illegal Immigrant’ Game,” democracynow.org, http://www.democracynow.org/2007/2/23/hundreds_protest_nyu_republicans_find_the (accessed 30 August 2008); and “New York University students protest illegal-immigrant game,” Associated Press, 22 February 2007, http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/02/22/america/NA-GEN-US-Immigrant-Game.php (accessed 30 August 2008).
(26) See Nick Brennan, “‘Find the Illegal Immigrant’: College Republicans’ Event Today Incites Protests from Student Groups,” NYU News, 22 February 2007, http://media.www.nyunews.com/media/storage/paper869/news/2007/02/22/News/find-The.Illegal.Immigrant-2736345.shtml (accessed 4 June 2008); see also several interview clips on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPkMwEwD8qc, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vg9HH2BZNHU, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aph9yO4WPKs&NR=1 (accessed 18 September 2008).
(27) The opposite, as our history with Japanese citizens during WWII reminds us, is also an ever-present possibility.
(28) Randal C. Archibold, “Immigrant Rights Rallies Smaller Than Last Year,” New York Times, 2 May 2007.
(29) Ewick and Silbey, The Common Place of Law, 30.
(30) The New York May 1 Coalition offered fliers for the event in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Creole, English, Korean, Russian, and Spanish. See http://www.leftshift.org/may1/2006may1.shtml (accessed 31 August 2008).
(31) There are, as is precisely my point, countless examples of cultural narratives centering on Mexican undocumented workers. A recent example gaining increasing mass attention is the film La Misma Luna (Under the Same Moon), directed by Patricia Riggen (2007). Even at the Repertorio, En ningún lugar de la frontera is performed currently alongside Silvia González’s Boxcar (Vagón), which stages the gruesome death of workers crossing illegally from Mexico in freight cars.