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Navigating the Northern Line: Discourses of the U.S.-Canadian Borderlands

Jason M. Ackleson

International Studies Association
41st Annual Convention
Los Angeles, CA
March 14-18, 2000

1.0 Abstract

American border policy in the 1990s and at the beginning of the twenty-first century increasingly favours tightened or ‘hardened’ ‘control’ of state boundaries, seeking to seal them from unofficial incursions by undocumented workers or drug flows, presenting the ‘image’ that these flows are being reduced and ‘chaos’ is leading to ‘order’. Policy changes vary in degree on both northern and southern borders, but range from using high-tech surveillance systems borrowed from the military, to posting more guards, to actually constructing physical barriers. This ‘rebordering’ or ‘reterritorialisation’ contrasts markedly with concurrent moves to increase economic growth and interdependence by freeing capital and trade under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and with long patterns of transnational socio-cultural interaction and interdependence that have characterised the borderlands, the wide swath of land which transcends the political boundary and bears unique characteristics. Thus, in a moment of globalising late modernity, the traditional state apparatus (and our accompanying theoretical understandings and reproductions of it) reimposes itself.

But it takes more than the deployment of troops or barriers to reinforce difference; a neglected, but critical component which allows such policy initiatives are state ‘narratives’ which, as representational practices, underwrite and formulate a key part of the discourses of territoriality and identity in international relations; I argue that in this case they ultimately help formulate an image of border ‘control’ and migrant securitisation which underpins our understanding of the territorial state and also implicates a modern understanding of ‘knowledge-as-regulation’. The associated complex relationships between collective identity and borders are examined in the paper with an eye towards developing effective conceptual tools and approaches for this in IR.

More specifically, this paper examines both the historical development of the official policy discourse surrounding the initiatives currently underway in the American borderlands, focussing mainly on the U.S.-Canadian dynamic but also using selected examples from the southern American border with Mexico as well. In particular, I offer an analysis of the official documentation and public debate, the narratives which surround both current developments on the border and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA)—a major milestone in contemporary immigration and border control—and its provisions to establish strict control of entry and exit along the northern line, placing these in the theoretical framework.


1.1 Introduction

This paper is set against the backdrop of a larger thesis project. In short, this is a thesis about building ‘shields’—about how the very skin of the state apparatus, now enshrined, is constructed and how the intricate, complex, and varied processes—such as border ‘control’ and its supportive discursive and narrative frameworks—inside it serve to implicate processes of collective identity building and differentiation in the larger manifold of the international system. This is a piece about borders. It seeks a deeper understanding of the processes and modes of representing political space and identity which serve as critical process links in the substantiation and reproduction of the state, territoriality, and identity as modern socio-political forms, and does so from a critical, reflective perspective. 1

The thesis ‘unpacks’ some of the phenomena that on one level challenge traditional borders but on another, only serve to replicate them; these include transnationalisation, globalisation, and the development of interdependent ‘borderlands’—both territorial and cognitive/psychological spaces of overlapping and multiple identity structures and cultures which may presage coming, wide-scale changes within many states. A ‘deterritorialisation’ move towards hybridity, quick ‘flows’ of peoples, ideas, and capital, and the growing move beyond more traditional forms of socio-cultural relations suggests a moment of reflexive late modernity, and perhaps a point of transition and ‘turbulence’ but, as the case study indicates, is constantly in tension with dynamics of reterritorialisation imposed by the territorial state and made possible by the modern frames of policy and public discourse.

Moreover, by analysing the discourse, the cognitive and linguistic possibility structures created and reproduced in the political debates on ‘border control’, we have a convenient and intriguing window into this process to understand the possibilities of bounded communities or the limits of the political project. I argue borders are always in a state of becoming; they never simply statically exist in conceptual or practical terms per se. These too are constructs and the processes and dynamics of their construction are important glimpses into some of the driving trends in the North American post-Cold War, interdependent NAFTA world which demands analysis beyond narrow economic terms, too often the sole focus of integration studies.

A ‘turbulent’ moment of change and transition also prompts a researcher—particularly a critical one—to re-evaluate some of the theoretical apparatuses that are used to examine, and in many cases, help reproduce political structures. In some cases, the ‘old’ ways or at least tools of theorising may have a hard time coming to terms with some of these changes, or at least only help to explain them in well-established ways that may not offer many new insights. Within the post-Cold War uncertainty (such as a North America positioned at a critical juncture of NAFTA-inspired integration but pulled by contested demands of political community and identity) theoretical orientation rightly pauses.

Recognising this, the paper operates conceptually itself in a kind of flexible academic ‘borderlands’, looking to synthesise transdisciplinary contributions; by drawing on work on the questions of borders, discourse, identity, territoriality—and the processes lying underneath—from several disciplines, including Cultural Studies, Sociology, Philosophy, and Political Geography, the paper seeks to bring a couple of new conceptual tools to International Relations (IR) theory to better examine and critique the processes of bordering, the processes by which we bind and unbind the political.

Namely, the essay utilises the new ‘Identities/ Borders/ Orders’ (I/B/O) heuristic tool, an open, ‘pre-theory’ triad which may help deconstruct and (re)evaluate the mutually constituting processes and relationships between these three ‘key’ concepts and, in the end, hopefully generate interesting insights. 2 Here, the triad seeks to critically examine the relationship between narratives and policy which help construct the state ‘order’ and whose representational practices and politics also designate individuals discretely as citizens. In relation to the ‘identity’ component of the triad, for instance, this has a key role in designating the naturalised and reproduced identification processes and relations that legitimate the state and connect it to a national collective identity. 3

Borders, in general, and the North American NAFTA case, present good ‘laboratories’ where the late modern forces of increasing transnational capital, information, and culture drive towards greater continental integration and foster porous borders whilst at the same time junctures consisting of political contestation over questions of migration, regionalism, and identity; because these are regions which cloak the international boundaries and are unique, interdependent, bi-national zones of exchange, synthesis, and differentiation, in many ways, they are the ‘joints of continental articulation’. 4 Moreover, the North American case involves tripartite interactions between a hegemonic, highly advanced state, a smaller scale late industrial society, and a developing country and thus implicates unique variables.

As the prevalent old Cold War discourse which efficiently organised dichotomous worldviews and enemies continues to fade, new questions and issues of identity and difference originate. Borders, as both metaphorical and political spaces, particularly manifest questions of migration, trade, and other socio-political interaction. I argue the new post-Cold War, exclusionary securitisation of borders and migrants is one response to this uncertainty and a partial means for collective identity constitution. Border policy in the United States is informed by new initiatives to ‘securitise’ state boundaries, reflecting the development of two new seemingly paradoxical policy regimes: economic integration through decreased restrictions on capital and trade flows in North America with a concurrent, exclusionary tightening of labour flows.

One way of coming to terms with these complicated dynamics is through an examination of the politics of representation involved in the political presentation of an image of border ‘security’ and, based on modernity’s ‘knowledge-as-regulation’ form which furthers the trajectory between ignorance designated as ‘chaos’ and ‘knowledge’ understood as ‘order’. 5 To understand this, I look at discourse and narrative, the ways in which language and symbolism articulate political positions and power, helping constitute our understandings and naturalisations of the boundaries around us by setting the fields of interpretation and possibility. The usefulness of such an approach is highlighted by Michael Shapiro:

Given that our understanding of conflict, war, or more generally, the space within which international politics is deployed is always mediated by modes of representation and thus by all the various mechanisms involved in text construction—grammars, rhetorics, and narrativity—we must operate within a view of politics that is sensitive to textuality...political processes are, among other things, contests over the alternative understandings (often implicit) immanent in...representational practices. 6

Accordingly, the focus here is on the ‘scripts’ of international relations, and in particular, those of borders—often reified or taken as static legal ‘givens’ in the international system. A discursive or narrative focus, however, does not imply the rejection of competing explanatory facts, such as material demands or conflicts, but rather serves a clarifying ‘lens’ to the politics and ‘orders’ at hand and their possibilities.

In the American borderlands case, in fact, I suggest often the narratives and images construct an ‘order’ made more from the ‘image’ of ‘control’ rather than actually addressing or solving some of the public policy questions, such as undocumented migration, it supposedly set out to do. This, as noted both furthers ‘knowledge-as-regulation’ on an epistemological level but also helps justify exclusionary ‘control’ over suffering human elements (migrants) in the name of the struggle for order. The boundary narratives also have a significant role in identity constitution by casting identity against an other. Accordingly, these are some of the important ways in which political space is written in North America; how this impacts the dynamics of ‘identities, borders, and orders’ is of special concern here.

In the U.S.-Canada case, an examination of government policy ‘texts’ or public transcripts as well as supporting and contending policy speeches are points of crystallisation for the case study. In particular, I offer an analysis of the official documentation and public debate, in effect, the narratives which surround both current developments on the border and the watershed Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA). 7

More specifically, several research questions are offered: how has the modern, Westphalian model framed social and political thinking—our epistemological order, particularly in regards to borders? What do the changing modes of differentiation, integration, fragmentation, and deterritorialisation, hints of a new ‘order’ of late modernity in the West suggest for the link between territory, borders, and national identity? How can narrative

More specifically, several research questions are offered: how has the modern, Westphalian model framed social and political thinking—our epistemological order, particularly in regards to borders? What do the changing modes of differentiation, integration, fragmentation, and deterritorialisation, hints of a new ‘order’ of late modernity in the West suggest for the link between territory, borders, and national identity? How can narrative policy analysis and the identities/borders/orders conceptual triad serve as a useful tools to examine the complex nexus of these key relationships in the post-Cold War era of NAFTA and late modernity and the (re)production of political space and identity? What ‘metanarrative’ is emerging within this border discourse?

This paper proceeds with a theoretical and methodological review of discourse analysis. The emphasis is on the ‘bordering’ practices embedded within these narratives which help reproduce modern norms of territoriality and identity. Within the conceptual overview of work on discourse, which is informed to a good degree by Michel Foucault, the section looks to help ‘denaturalise’ the conditions and power frameworks through a ‘constitutive’ theory of language. The analysis is then narrowed to focus on ‘narrative policy analysis’, the more specific conceptual and research approach used here, and in particular how tales of the state are written and public policy issues framed. The next section examines the historically contingent bordering practices of the US-Canadian borderlands which have (re)produced a unique pattern of socio-political organisation centred on the longest undefended boundary in the world. This is followed by a discussion of contemporary developments there (particularly in the context of NAFTA-inspired deterritorialised transnational flows) such as the impact on identity, and the state’s responses to this—again evaluated through narrative analysis. The textual analysis of major public ‘texts’ relating to border issues, especially the IIRIRA of 1996, follows, along with an evaluation of contemporary developments which help formulate the emergent narrative and counter-narratives of the border. The paper concludes with an overview analysis and several questions for further research.


1.2 Discourse: A Brief Theoretical and Research Outline

Writing is the continuation of politics by other means.
—Philippe Sollers 8

The premise of this section holds that the (re)production of political space and collective identity are intimately linked with processes and relations, most specifically the state system and the intersubjective construction of norms of territoriality and spatiality. Moreover, as earlier sections of this work suggest, a clear interrelated dynamic of space and identity exists, particularly under the stating assumption both are socially and politically constituted. Under modernity and the territorial Westphalian system, borders are understood as static, linear demarcations imbued with international legal status. But, this particular modern form of political ‘mapping’ must be seen as historically contingent and unique; what we understand as the modern state system and static international law is not the inevitable and ultimate international political condition. The step to dereify or denaturalise this condition is a precursor to the evaluation of any alternative political imaginaries.

Territoriality, political control over space, is continuously exercised in various ways. Practices of ‘bordering’, of differentiation are key in this maintenance project, as they are for the wider identities and orders which they link to. Borders, of all kinds, it seems are seen to require patrols. Clearly, actual deployment of state force or the imposition of physical barriers, for instance, are standard practices for such support, as is the international ‘status’ given by other states and international organisations to boundaries. But so too are the discursive narratives which allow and support these possibilities, even if they simply serve to help create images of ‘control’ whilst transnational flows persist at the same or increased levels and the underlying ‘chaos’ designated epistemologically as ignorance is ordered. 9

In addition to the study of new kinds of ‘deterritorialising’ movements such as globalisation, the interesting kind of question that emerges, however, is under what conditions are these possibilities maintained? How does a democratic state like the US legitimatise its control or hardening of its borderlands, as will be illustrated in this section with respect to the Canadian case? How does it set the parameters for what constitutes ‘national’ collective identity within and against borders? How does it re-inscribe national consciousness and differentiation against a growing tide of transnational economic and social forces? In effect, what processes and relations set the borders of political possibility? What current political initiatives and discourses ‘write’ that space?

I argue that discourse and narratives are instrumental in answering these sorts of questions. Discourse analysis is increasingly being used in the social sciences, cultural theory, and critical theory to unlock the relationships between language and power. Whilst they of course cannot completely account for the reproduction of borders, they do set out the possibilities and rules for their operation and continuity, or the official or historical order of discursive and political possibility. As this thesis maintains, borders simply do not exist; they are constantly in the process of becoming, constituted in large part by the interrelationship between identities and orders. The policy narratives which play a role in this relation are thus critical objects for examination: words have constitutive power in making meaning and creating images which can result in political action. What role, for example, does the ‘bordering’ practices embedded in official policy discourse impact conceptions of identity?

Discourse analysis posits an association of language as a system that helps to determine how people think and express themselves, or in this context, sets the social and political context of possibility. As Sara Mills writes ‘a discourse is not a disembodied collection of statements, but groupings of utterances or sentences...which are determined by that social context and which contribute to the way that social context continues its existence’. 10

These discourses are organised in an exclusionary way; the ‘unsayable’ is a result of the naturalisation of a particular discourse. Moreover, discourses are in continual contestation with one another and have a highly significant impact in how one interprets a text. Discourse, then, becomes the ‘practices that systematically form the objects of which they speak’: it is instrumental in the production of an outcome. 11 A discursive structure, as Mills asserts, consists of the ‘systematicity of the ideas, opinions, concepts, ways of thinking and behaving which are formed within a particular context, and because of the effects of those ways of thinking and behaving’; the dominant discursive structure, as Foucault would argue, in any particular instance is constructed and supported by power interests which formulate the ‘lenses’ through which truth and knowledge are accessed and understood and social relations are formulated. 12 The relationships between social structures, economics, and politics and discourse, Foucault maintained, are complex and non-hierarchical, but each part of overarching power relations.

This approach thus assumes a ‘constitutive’ theory of language as opposed to ‘referential’ theory which ‘sees language as a neutral medium, passively connecting thoughts and actions’. 13 A constitutive theory recognises the processes and relations between language and meaning ‘develops through the strategic application of discursive practices and strategies’. 14 The strategies in play suggest the linguistic, rhetorical, or symbolic ‘bordering’ practices which help realise particular goals by representing individuals, identities, and spaces in various historical modes. But, as Hugh Mehan notes, the word ‘strategy’ can suggest deliberate action but in reality ‘participants in discourse seldom choose strategies consciously from a roster of alternatives; they most often use discourse strategies quite unintentionally’. 15 Because of this, he maintains, discourse strategies are dependent on the socio-cultural context in which they are deployed. However, the corresponding political effect, ‘stratifying’ or otherwise means the narrative moulds, ‘are largely shaped through discursive practices’. 16


1.3 ‘Narrating’ Borders: Official State Discourse

Embedded within discourse is narrative, the widespread, interrelated matrix of ‘stories’ which help make sense of both the cultural-social and the political worlds. ‘Story’ here does connote fictional, non-‘objective’ tales, but rather suggests the knowledges and social ‘truths’ embedded in particular textual (written, spoken, or visual) representations which help construct the borders of political frames. Narratives provide key framing devices which contextualise and render intelligible the discursive practices alluded to in the previous section. Sanford Schram and Philip Neisser, two leading scholars on the connection between narrative and politics, assert ‘narrative practices...are embedded in all discourse, making the unavoidable political selectivity of narrative—sometimes called “bias”—an ineliminable part of all representational practices, including even those of the state’. 17 Ultimately, though narrative ‘helps constitute the world as we know it’. 18 Thus, it serves an important role in the socio-political construction of borders of various kinds—political, social, even ethical.

Narratives circulate throughout politics and culture in varying degrees, importance, and dominance. Hegemonic narratives may be so pervasive as to go unnoticed, continuously reproduced through a variety of practices (orders) deployed or bolstered by commonly accepted imagery (the guise of national foundation myths or neo-liberalism, for example), some of which is identified in this thesis but often go unpacked. 19 Accordingly, important to study are the ‘counter-narratives’ (to the prevailing power-embedded narratives such as the ‘New World Order’, ‘globalisation’, the ‘American Dream’, and so forth) which are not accessible through prevailing positivist/rationalist epistemologies and ontologies. 20 Indeed, as we shall see, narrative analysis opens the arena to marginalised approaches to policy, such as social constructivism, cultural theory, poststructualism, Marxism, and others.

Narrative policy analysis, which is applied here, stems from a new, post-positivist literature in International Relations and other social sciences which offers new perspectives on problems conventionally analysed from positivist positions; this work focuses on ‘how representational practices (whether they are rhetorical, discursive, or symbolic) contexualize, fame, or narrate policy problems and their solutions’. 21 As Dolan and Dumm argue, policy analysis must focus on these representational practices by unearthing how the public, scholars, and policy-makers understand the issue at stake and what is developed on the public agenda. 22

Moreover, the kind of analysis undertaken here can reveal how narratives become ‘particularly effective medium[s] for reinscribing race, gender, or class identities’, many of the issues at stake in an I/B/O oriented research project. 23 Representational practices, as Connolly, Shapiro, Edleman, and others argue, are crucial in designating the naturalised and reproduced identification processes and relations that legitimate the state and connect it to national collective identity. 24 Such is the task at hand here.

Narrative policy analysis is a salient approach to understand the dynamics and frameworks articulated by policymakers which support and constitute claims and policy choices. It lets us reflect on the role narratives play in contemporary political controversies and developments as constitutive forces. Policy often proceeds after and through a process of contestation between prevailing and counter narratives; thus a metanarrative (small-m, non-homogenising or totalising), Emery Roe suggests, emerges, even as a temporary stability, as the preferred policy candidate which is told by comparison to non-stories. 25 These metanarratives then set the options for policy deployment. In such a way, they are not unlike Foucault’s ‘discursive formations’ that mould around certain themes, such as sexuality, but can be extended to classic international relations or policy concepts and issues, like the nation-state, immigration, and borders, among others. 26 Roe goes on to suggest ‘stories commonly used in describing and analyzing policy issues are a force in themselves, and must be considered explicitly in assessing policy options...they continue to underwrite and stablize the assumptions for decision making in the face of high uncertainty, complexity, and polarization’. 27 What is important to remember in a reflexive manner is that because narrative is so pervasive, both the terms in which a policy is deliberated and the policy itself are narratives; public policy, in effect, is a politically selective narrative between the state and citizens.

One of the main institutional sanction, control, and production sites is official government discourse. Governments have a special role in both deploying and writing policy (in a discursive sense). Here, a highly salient example of the power/knowledge nexus comes into play. Official narratives, then, play a key ideational role in affecting both the structures of knowledge surrounding policy initiatives and in formulating the constrained and unwritten rules within which they are decided upon and then supported or rejected among the public in democratic situations. 28

Thus, it makes sense to speak of a ‘border’ discourse, of a dominant spatial narrative (reproduced both through international systemic forces and domestically through official policy documents, policy speeches, administrative rules, and so forth) which has a distinct and important role in reproducing the political space of the state and has an impact on collective identity. 29 Indeed, as Somers and Gibson write, ‘Struggles over narrations are...struggles over identity’. 30 Where and how that ‘border’ is set, both literally and discursively, is a window on how and where the political is determined and realised. Narratives play a key role in constructing this political space. How the problem, in effect, is defined through the narrative of particular political practices, is important; as Burton and Carlen suggest, ‘Official Discourse places subjects within sets of knowledges and modes of recognition that produce specific and meaningful readings’. 31

Important too are the ‘stories’ which are not told. Stone, Schram and Neisser in fact contend that the goal of a critical policy analyst should ‘not be to distinguish reasoned deliberation from instances of rumormongering, but to interrogate all policy-making activity for its narrativity and asses the consequences given the persuasiveness of particular tales’. 32 We must, as Shapiro persuasively suggests, ‘unread’ narratives, looking for their ‘remainders’, or what has been left out to understand the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion. 33 Some of the counter-narratives of the American borderlands, for instance, is identified later in this paper.

As I argue below, however, the larger border discourse seems to be in tension with the dialectics of reterritorialisation (such as neo-racism, border ‘control’) and deterritorialisation (NAFTA, for instance) explored here and elsewhere. 34 This is consistent with the assumption that the process of formulating such subjects in discourse and practice is continual and always contested. However, at a time of post-Cold War uncertainty, when the traditional polis seems at odds with increased global or regional integration and relations and a propensity exists to turn inward to national, regional, or ethnic identities for expression under globalisation, the search for new ‘enemies’ in ‘illegal immigrants’, for example as Hugh Mehan indicates, is on—just as is the concomitant discourse supporting border control and securitisation to ‘protect’ American sovereignty (and identity) under study in the balance of this paper.

Narrative Policy Analysis in Action

In addition to the case study developed here, several recent important studies of narrative and politics have illustrated the salience and productivity of this approach. One International Relations scholar who has worked extensively on the subject is Michael Shapiro. Utilising innovative textual analysis methods and texts, Shapiro’s writings on various kinds of ‘representations’ like language and imagery have illuminated the debate in an informed poststructural/critical way. 35 While only encompassing a portion of his work (his groundbreaking edited collection, Challenging Boundaries, marks a crucial turn in ‘border’ related work and is dealt with elsewhere in this thesis), his studies of narratives are controversial, but stimulate debate as it denaturalises and (re)presents commonly accepted IR concepts as well as the global narratives which sustain them.

Shapiro’s work on immigration and political narratives in the United States is of particular relevance here, not only for his theoretical contributions, but also because of what he has chosen to examine: migration and the American political and identity community. 36 Seeking to understand the aftermath of the 1994 U.S. Republican party ‘Contract with America’ as it relates to anti-immigrant sentiment, Shapiro deploys a narrative analysis of the construction of immigrants and ‘illegal aliens’ transgressing borders as ‘threats to valued models of personhood and to images of a unified national society and culture’, images which have important political manifestations: ‘they are continuously recycled in the narratives that constitute the “American” nation’. 37 Important here is Shapiro’s ability, through the narrative analysis, to link identity and the national story, which, he argues, has been written to ‘connect personhood with the national identity...particularly contentious during periods in which the boundaries of the self have been altered’; 38 arguably, in conditions of a globalising, late modernity, we are at such a moment. The notion of borders is critical in this process of ‘constituting Americans’. 39

This cogent narrative analysis supports his contention that ‘the story of a unified national culture, designed to legitimate the ethnic and spatial boundary policing of the modern state, retains its force’. 40 Through key textual illustrations which illustrate—although incompletely—the debate over immigration in the United States, (perhaps one of the most widely recognised abilities of borders), Shapiro shows how narrative analysis can uncover the ‘alienating scripts’ which produce the alien other in an attempt to shake some epistemic ground to potentially create an opening for a ‘relax[ing] [of] territorial models of identity and [recognition of] the amoeba like existence of cultural boundaries’; until then, ‘there can be no culturally dangerous others, only dangerous ways of estranging others’, a laudable objective. 41 Similar narrative analyses have recently been conducted on subjects ranging from the discourses of so-called ‘Welfare Queens’, to myth and stereotype in American policy in Apartheid South Africa, to ethnic demography. Thus, the construction of identity narratives is a contested process of political and social representations and tracing them can reveal much about both the spatial and non-spatial ‘borders’ in play in determinations of the political.

The next section sets out to clarify and analyse US border and immigration policy through an in-depth examination of the textual ‘data’—the rhetoric, documents, and comments, what Scott calls the ‘public’ and ‘hidden’ transcripts—which continually (re)produce these boundaries and affect patterns of identity, territoriality, and movement. 42 Following Mehan and the principles set out earlier, representative documents from the public discussion surrounding the new border policy were collected were read and reread to highlight the narrative strategies—and the very language of the law—employed by individuals who are often institutionally representative (such as Congressmen) to represent space and difference and persuade the public, partially by setting out discursive possibilities for policy action and even identity. 43

More specifically, this section on the Canadian border is concerned with both the official language and political rhetoric surrounding the IIRIRA and subsequent policy narration of the northern border—using the legislation, supporting statements, and direct interviews with policymakers—as well as ‘official’ and ‘non-official’ counter-narratives. Within the analytical framework of border analysis and the IBO triad as analytical tools the goal is to help bring to light new understanding of the processes and politics of bordering and identity construction as they affect political and social orders. Again, the texts analysed are representational, but by no means exhaustive, of the entire, on-going debate.

Before turning to that specific analysis, however, a brief review of the historicity of territoriality and identity inherent in the US-Canadian borderlands follows. This in turn sets the socio-political ‘stage’ for the narrative analysis of contemporary bordering practices which follows.


1.4 ‘Reading’ the U.S.-Canadian Borderlands

Canada is unthinkable without its border with the U.S.A.
—Martin Kuester 44

All borders are socially and politically ‘constructed’ phenomena which require continual processes and relations to be reproduced. Borders, moreover, are political representations of power and have much to do with the spatiality of self, identity, and state; they configure political and cultural difference. 45 This is directly connected to the Jeremy Black’s idea that cartography ‘connects territory with social order’. 46 As Barth, Paasi, Albert, Ackleson and others have shown, there are numerous symbolic and ideational relationships between territorial organisation achieved through bordering practices and socio-political groupings; the ‘spatial socialization’ constitution of identity, for example, often follows the ‘borderlines between human and “something else”’. 47 Moreover, bordering practices are historically contingent, drawing on and being reproduced by various but unique patterns of socio-political organisation.

Of particular use in such a formulation is the Identities/Borders/Orders (I/B/O) project. Developed by Yosef Lapid, it seeks to analyse the triadic, mutually constitutive relationships between these three nodal ‘key concepts’. 48 The I/B/O offers a potentially useful and productive heuristic tool to understand the ‘interaction’ of processes and relations at work in constituting a variety of political situations and dynamics, such as differentiating that reinforces national collective identity through the metaphor of the ‘border’, the case in the American borderlands. The tool, as illustrated, may engender multiple applications to help understand the resulting ‘orders’ or ‘maps’ of international politics (and to even evaluate the way IR ‘draws’ them). It should also be noted that the I/BO formulation represents a ‘pre-theory’ development and does not set out to formulate formal IR theory as such.

Clearly ‘identities, borders, and orders’ are in play along the U.S.-Canadian borderlands. As the textual analysis illustrates, recent political developments and enabling narratives serve to help construct a ‘threat’, e.g., terrorism and undocumented migration, to the national political idea and territoriality of the United States. In play too here are nationalism narratives which increasingly resist movement towards heightened integration in North America (something even more clearly evidenced in the southern borderlands with Mexico). Accordingly, political space and difference is ‘written’, thus helping to constitute a particular normative-political project.

What is significant here is the interrelationship between these three ‘key’ concepts so important in social and political theory: the reterritorialisation can not be explained solely in terms of one variable (e.g. identity) but rather at least two (identity and borders). Identity is differentiated, the border is reinforced discursively and politically through securitisation, and the corresponding socio-political order shifts. Here, the I/B/O triad helps us understand the more complex and subtle dynamics at work in this case of writing space. This unlocks the processes and relations involved with the border ‘becoming’ what it is, rather than an abstract and arbitrary demarcation that might easily be accepted (and has been in traditional ways of thinking about IR) as reified or ‘given’, a static ‘substance’ oriented entity, instead preferring a dynamic, changing metaphor for international relations, in the processual sense of the term.

The construction of identity narratives and territoriality in the US-Canadian borderlands is imbedded in a long historical pattern which surrounds these three nodes. In order to understand the current context of new late modern geographies of identity, order, and change in the borderlands, we must first contextualise this within the historical evolution of the borderlands—and importantly, the processes of modernity that constructed these boundaries. The borders of the United States are illustrative of the patterns of political mapping distinctive to modern socio-political organisation. The historical and theoretical surveys and arguments set out earlier in this study serve as the backdrop and framework of analysis for the empirical case studies of bounded space in the borderlands of North America. This section, then, goes on to examine the event of the demarcation of the border, settled partly by diplomacy and partly by violence, as an evolving historical discourse, arguing the narrative continues to represent a ‘solid’ view of modern Cartesian bordering despite new ‘cartographic anxieties’ spurred by transnational disjunctures. 49

Historical Overview

The establishment of both the northern and southern international boundaries—and the processes of ‘bordering’ concomitant with that transformation—is an excellent study of the forces of territoriality and nationalism (borders and identities) on the birthing matrix of the American state and indeed the North American political and economic order. In effect, the boundaries of the state were achieved through the violent production of fixed and exclusive borders gradually westward, (re)mapping the space of the continent in rational, over pre-modern forms of political organisation as the frontiers of American society progressed and established the sovereign nation-state. The formation of the borderlands, then, marks the important emergence of the United States into the Westphalian system

In particular, the establishment of the 49th parallel as the northern border of the United States is a classic exemplar of the processes and discourses of modern boundary mapping. In setting the boundary, diplomats relied on a deep Western tradition in political thought which operates on Cartesian principles; this required strict, sharp differentiation of political entities (dating back to the Platonic ideal of the polis) which were to be territorialised ‘containers’ 50 of collective identity and national mission. These processes are realisations of modernity‘s cartographic frameworks; in effect, the historically contingent political representation of space has a direct impact on norms and practices of territoriality, power, and order. 51

Ignoring prior alternative methods of presenting political space, as modern cartographic and delimitation technologies advanced, all of the earth’s surface was ‘rendered equivalent’ and ‘all localness...vanish[ed] in the homogenisation and geometrisation of space’. 52 What was left denied a multitude of diverse identities, ecological factors, and cultural or interrelated areas; boundary setting, usually a production of violence, was based on a Cartesian perspective which serves as a vehicle for a variety of knowledge-power relationships, primarily the sovereign state and modern, bureaucratic, and often, imperial, control. In the end, this helped create a narrative of ‘exclusive spatial notions of identity’. 53

The northern American frontier was first established with Britain in 1783, running from the St. Croix River’s mouth to the ‘highlands’ between Maine and Quebec (only finally ‘settled’ in 1842 with the advent of more precise scientific cartographic techniques). 1814 saw the Treaty of Ghent confirming most American claims. In 1818, the western border, the 49th parallel, a perfect longitudinal line, was chosen as the delimiting marker to the Rocky mountains—extended in 1846 when the Oregon territory was organised. The twentieth century witnessed a handful of fishing boundaries disputed, but the majority of the 5,535 mile boundary, the Canadian border, sometimes rugged and desolate and frequently intersecting large bodies of water, was in the end a nineteenth century mapping done in the terms of the modern, European territorial project.

The irony interlaced with the setting of all these firm boundaries are the intense and developed sites of cross-border interaction and integration, not to mention the wider issues of national identity between and within the US, and Canada, including local, sub-national or regional identities—all of which represent various integrations across and beneath borders. 54 The 49th parallel is ‘itself a synecdoche, a rhetorical part standing for the rhetorical whole—at once joins and divides two nation-states, permits contact, influence, choice...and difference as well’. 55 In the prairie/plains region, for instance, Kaye argues,

the border is most abstractly a geometrical concept, impl[ing] a distinction between the two sides of the may imply both a region of bending and a region where contrasts are most precise simply because two cultures, two nations, meet face to face on territory differentiated only by that political abstraction, the border. 56

The larger bilateral relationship is built on a similar colonial history, dominant language, similar culture, and booming commerce. Nearly $1 billion in commerce takes place each day between the two nations, making Canada the largest American trading partner, and a good degree of it comes from daily commutes for shopping and jobs. Forty-five percent of U.S.-Canada trade passes through the Michigan/Ontario Port-of-Entry and 30 percent goes through the Buffalo/Fort Erie/Niagara region. The Ambassador Bridge in Detroit accommodates the largest commercial exchange in the entire United States (almost 11 million vehicles in 1997, including more than 2.5 million trucks). 57

The Northern Borderlands

Since the establishment of the 49th parallel as the northern boundary of the United States and the southern border of Canada, both nation-states have boasted they share the ‘longest undefended frontier’ in the world. The northern borderlands are what Oscar Martinez, in his well-known typology of borderlands, would call ‘interdependent’, possibly moving toward an ‘integrated’ status; this categorisation is based on the level of cross-border movement and suggests a ‘symbiotic link’ fostered by stable relations, economic dependence, and numerous bi-national socio-cultural interactions. 58 The international boundary line, in many cases, does not disrupt processes of inclusion that span international communities and thus the regions are best understood as borderlands or border zones.

If only because of the larger integration at stake, the borderlands are a significant metaphor or ‘joint’ between the two states, even as it is distinct and integrated itself. The geographical orientation of Canada means a large degree of its population live near the borderlands and are well-placed for trips: indeed 90 per cent of Canada’s 29 million people live within 60 miles of the U.S. border. Nearly 30 million people make trips through the Detroit ports-of-entry each year, followed by almost 30 million crossings in the Buffalo region, and 20 million in the Seattle area. 59

The northern border straddles mutually interdependent communities; numerous examples of the international line bisecting community churches, restaurants, and even homes exist. Residents of these bi-national communities cross the line with regularity and have enjoyed years of prosperous and vibrant interaction. In many places, the boundary is unmarked or demarcated only by a post or sign; multiple free crossing points exist. Derby Line, Vermont, for instance, is literally spliced in two in places where Vermont collides with Quebec, sharing municipal services, neighbourhoods, and even a library where the international line crosses. ‘We function here like one community’, says Kim Prangley, a second-generation librarian with dual citizenship who lives in Canada, ‘So if they really tighten up on border crossings, it would make life tougher not only for the library, but people on both sides of the border’. 60

As it cuts in some cases like ‘a cleaver’ through towns which have more in common with one another than their respective national, state, or provincial capitals, the border often is treated as ‘more nuisance than necessity’. 61 Interconnectedness in some places along the borderlands means hybrid communities, divided often by only a painted stripe that can run through places as bizarre as community churches and libraries leading even a US Border Patrol supervisor when asked about a wall along the border to maintain

You cannot do it—absolutely not...People here have their farms on the other side, their aunts and uncles too...The U.S.-Canada border is a living organism—a life and culture. We try not to disturb it. 62

The discourse is almost one that suggests a highly relaxed territoriality that belies the arbitrary political demarcation. And a Canadian Mohawk Indian reminds us of even older, non-Western forms of territoriality and political organisation:

This line—this imaginary line where the two white people couldn’t get along—does not affect us...It goes above our heads. 63

Nevertheless, the border as political representation still casts the shadows of collective identity problematics which are in play in Canada, as the border represents the foil against which collective identity is realised. As the Canadian historian Pierre Berton remarks, ‘We know who we are not, even if we aren’t quite sure who we are. We are not American’. The questions surrounding identity are only increasing under increased economic and social interaction under NAFTA, leading some to call for measures to protect Canadian cultural and social processes.

In addition to illustrating the significance and interrelatedness of the two states, as well as the uniqueness and interdependence of the borderlands on their own terms, the important theoretical note here is that this particular territoriality and ideal, linear nation-territory relationship is not a given, but continuously constructed through a variety of ‘bordering’ practices (such as narrative) by state, cultural, and social agents. The often unobserved politics of the writing of this space and the inclusionary/exclusionary impulses through it are thus tied to collective identity formation (particularly nationalism) and sustaining political discourses.


1.5 Changing Narrations of Bounded Space in the American Borderlands: A Textual Analysis

This bill will secure our borders, protect American lives, make America more competitive in the global marketplace...and encourage immigrants to be self-reliant.

U.S. Representative Lamar Smith, on the U.S. House of Representatives Floor upon introduction of HR 2202 (IIRIRA). 65

On 30 January 1996, with this ‘hopeful’ remark Representative Lamar Smith introduced H.R. 2202, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), the most sweeping immigration legislation in 10 years. 66 On 30 September 1996, U.S. President Bill Clinton signed into law this massive border legislation. 67 The earlier deployment of ‘Operation Blockade’ in the southern borderlands (a massive, intense effort to seal the boundary from unofficial incursions), this legislation, and more recent developments are some of the main points of crystallisation for new American policy in the borderlands—and will have far more reaching impacts than anyone imagined at the time.

This landmark legislation officially marked a significant change in government policy in the American borderlands which began to change and evolve with the end of the Cold War and the signing of NAFTA. Brought about in part by nervous economic concerns, an identity (and enemy) problem in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union (partly driven by changing demographic trends), as well as other factors, the act marked a consolidation of a new securitised border control regime that has characterised the post-Cold War era. This clearly clashed against the previous patterns either of policy neglect or non-interference in the borderlands just set out. The move, as we shall see, signalled a new propensity for ‘Free Trade, Open Societies, and Closed Borders’. 68 Increased cross-border travel and migration (exemplified by the lack of any substantial discussion of the free movement of labour within the NAFTA negotiation) 69 has helped to increase a sense of insecurity requiring at least the symbolic protection of American borders.

The legislative change—and subsequent changes in law and political discourse—officially established American policy in the borderlands with Canada and Mexico. The IIRIRA began to articulate the degree to which ‘border control’—and immigration—in the context of a changing economic regime had begun to dominate the American political landscape. Border control, immigration, and the ‘war on drugs’ moved higher on the foreign policy agenda of the nation than they had ever been during the Cold War, potentially spurred on by increasing transnational, globalising trends and flows.

Yet the IIRIRA and subsequent policy developments reveal distinct changes in policy towards the securitisation of migrants and the physical boundary, serving to reconfigure the cultural and political production of international boundaries within these wide and diverse bi-national borderlands. The current borderlands milieu is a new historical phase of these processes and relations. As examined in above, in the borderlands identity and culture are particularly subject to the pressures and changes of globalisation and transnationalism—these are ‘producing a complex mix of responses centered around identity’. 70

With the passage of IIRIRA, the status of the northern frontier of the United States suddenly became re-contested as the discourse of territoriality again shifted. Massive security resources were shifted to the borders. Long-held assumptions, like nearly automatic entry of Canadians into American soil, were no longer necessarily valid. In particular, an often unnoticed component of the act known as 'Section 110' required, within a two year period, the registration of all entrants into the United States through the establishment of a 'secure' entry and exit system. This is a major public policy concern for the United States and Canada. Before examining the specifics of this legislation and proceeding with a reading of it, and the narrative strategies used to support this text of inclusion, exclusion, and identity—a brief survey of the political dynamics surrounding the bill will be appropriate.

Political Context of the Act

Major research is being conducted elsewhere on the highly complex and intricate politics of immigration reform; only a cursory and superficial overview may be given here. 71 The 1996 IIRIRA was passed in the midst of Republican party control of the U.S. Congress; the GOP swept into office two years earlier gaining their first majority in 40 years. IIRIRA came at a time when GOP partisans in the House pushed for welfare reform, tax cuts, regulation sunsetting, and other conservative agenda items. The political air in Washington was charged as usual—particularly with a Democratic White House—but not as volatile as it might have been as President Clinton positioned himself along popular centrist lines. Moreover, his administration aligned itself with several conservative initiatives, including border control. As a result, many GOP proposals, like IIRIRA, stood excellent chances as the legislative session of the 104th Congress began. The rhetoric surrounding the debate and evolution of the policy in these political terms, however, still provides useful insights to help understand the dynamics of border ‘control’ policy within the theoretical framework elaborated earlier, especially as they help formulate parts of the existing power structures.

The American economic recovery had also yet to fully begin when House Resolution 2202, the initial IIRIRA legislation, was introduced by U.S. Representative Larry Smith. Smith, a Republican, is the powerful chair of the Immigration Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee and an ardent supporter of immigration restrictions and border control, reduced welfare rights for immigrants (maintaining the position, which as we will see later, that both documented and undocumented workers should receive no public assistance). His political agenda, then, along with many members of his party and some Democrats, was to draw a stronger moral, political, and legal boundary between Americans and the Other—migrants, both legal and undocumented.

The momentum behind this legislative move had been building for several years, awaiting the proper political climate to be released. Interest groups mobilised behind the plan, responding to calls to reduce immigration and ‘regain control of our northern and southern borders’. One in particular, known as FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform), renewed its pleas for increased funding and infrastructure seeking ‘border security’, and was influential in agenda setting which were laced with a highly nationalistic, exclusionary, and militant rhetoric, going so far as to produce texts lamenting the ‘chaos on our borders’ and outlining ‘Ten Steps to Secure Our Borders’ such as massive tripartite fencing to ‘hold back the flood’ and ‘barrage of aliens’ thereby ‘regain[ing] control of our northern and southern borders’. 72 Other conservative interests groups similarly aligned themselves behind the bill.

In response, then, to a variety of international and domestic political inputs, and, as I argue later here, in an effort to help constitute national identity and elucidate a metanarrative that at least presented the image of border control, the emergent legislation was packed with unprecedented resources devoted to border security. The law, in effect, is a keystone to an analysis of border policy in both the northern and southern borderlands. It is divided into six titles: Title I (border control, legal entry and interior enforcement); Title II (alien smuggling and document fraud); Title III (inspection, apprehension, detention and removal); Title IV (employment restrictions); Title V (public benefit restrictions); and Title VI (asylum, consular procedures, foreign student and miscellaneous provisions). Those relevant to the analysis here—examining the narrative strategies at work within the research strategy outlined above—Titles I and V will be evaluated in turn, with special emphasis on key provisions in certain sections. This is followed by a discussion of subsequent developments in the debate and more recent calls for the border to be ‘secured’.

Title I is largely dedicated to high resource allocation for securitising the borderlands. Section 101 of the bill ‘Increases the number of Border Patrol agents by 1,000 in each of the next five years (FY 1997 to 2001) those areas of the border identified as areas of high illegal entry into the United States in order to provide a uniform and visible deterrent to illegal entry on a continuing basis’. 73 Section 102, ‘Improvement of Barriers at Border’, authorises the Attorney General to ‘take such actions as may be necessary to install additional physical barriers and roads (including the removal of obstacles to detection of illegal entrants) in the vicinity of the United States border to deter illegal crossings in areas of high illegal entry into the United States’.

Section 103, ‘Improved Border Equipment and Technology’, allows the Attorney General ‘to acquire and use, for the purpose of detection, interdiction, and reduction of illegal immigration into the United States, any Federal equipment (including fixed wing aircraft, helicopters, four-wheel drive vehicles, sedans, night vision goggles, night vision scopes, and sensor units) determined available for transfer by any other agency of the Federal Government upon request of the Attorney General’, thereby implicating the ‘technological answer’ to the problem, a narrative strategy explained below.

With all of this, the bill effectively more than tripled the INS budget from FY 1993 to FY 1999, increasing from $1.5 billion to $4.2 billion; this represents over a three-fold increase with Border Patrol funding in particular approaching $1 billion in FY1999. 74 The bill sought to add extra 1,000 Border Patrol agents per year, now pushing the overall total to nearly 8,000 (over an 80 per cent increase since FY 1993, and a near doubling of the size of the Border Patrol by 2001), although the agency is now finding it difficult to find new recruits and complaints about inexperienced agents mishandling some duties have surfaced. As a result of all this, during a time of government cut-backs, the INS is now one of the fastest growing federal agencies and now makes up the largest corps of federal civilian employees able to make arrests and carry firearms. 75

Section 110

In addition to massive new resource allocation, the IIRIRA set into law a stringent new requirement to help ‘reterritorialise’ the northern border, creating prohibitive restrictions on cross-border travel despite the transnational pressures to liberalise such regulations discussed earlier. This narrative, then, is a salient example of the securitisation of the boundary and the reliance on a narrative of strict, Cartesian-Westphalian territoriality. This provision is known as ‘Section 110: Automated Entry-Exit Control System’. 76

This component of the law requires the INS to implement, within two years, an ‘automated entry and exit control system that will—collect a record of departure for every alien departing the United States and match the records of departure with the record of the alien’s arrival in the United States’. 77 The language of ‘every alien’ was drafted by Representative Smith and added in a relatively secretive legislative conference, thus catching many by surprise. 78 In a classic example of late modern, technologically-organised state control, the system would report on all non-U.S. citizens crossing the border, and moreover, in effect would require inspections by an INS officer of all entering individuals across both the northern and southern borderlands. This data, in addition to denying entry in many cases and effectively gutting the visa waiver program, would also gather information ‘regarding aliens who have remained in the United States beyond their authorized period of stay’, thereby theoretically allowing expulsion of visa overstayers. 79

The implementation of this measure, however, would cripple cross-border interaction and severely interfere with the neo-liberal NAFTA goals of free trade. Some estimates say it could cost as much as $3 billion a year to document each of the 100 million people who cross the border each year. The data collected in a few months alone would be greater than that in the Library of Congress. 80 Official after official in Canada and some in American border states have decried the measure, afraid the law will have a catastrophic effect on trade and movement across the border, where hundreds of thousands of people cross daily with just an oral declaration of where they were born and limited delays or issues. Even at a minimum of thirty seconds for each crosser, it would, as congressional staffers report, effectively close the border; Senator Abraham’s office has estimated the border controls would create backups of two to 17 hours at the busiest crossings with Canada. Operators of the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, the busiest crossing, have said the recordkeeping would effectively ‘shut down the border’ and disrupt $1 billion a day in trade at that crossing alone. 81 The provision, in addition to crippling day-to-day interactions, would also severely disrupt economic growth in the borderlands and commerce which increasingly depends on ‘just-in-time’ manufacturing techniques on both the southern and northern borders. 82

Section 110, despite its obvious shortcomings, was included in the IIRIRA for a variety of reasons, many, as we shall see, are drawn from the narrative strategies and assumptions used to construct and pass the bill. These, rather than the question of actual enforcement of Section 110, are at issue here. It might seem as though Section 110 would be meant only for the Mexico-US border. Ironically for its proponents, the NAFTA-inspired ‘architecture’ of North American politics, Cohn argues, in the first place made it ‘more difficult to separate Canada-U.S. from Mexico-U.S. cross-border travel issues’. 83 NAFTA’s main impulse was the reduction of trade boundaries and so this results in a strange paradox of supposedly freer trade.

In the case of Section 110, however, there are a variety of pressures for freer movement—ranging from the macro globalisation level to the subnational level—which were severely constrained by the inclusion of the provision, itself fed by anti-immigrant sentiment and other variables of domestic politics. 84 Perhaps the most important of these was Representative Smith’s own influence and ability, as we shall see, to set the possibilities for the debate. In effect, the discursive structure surrounding anti-immigrant fears as well as internal congressional dynamics (such as a decentralised committee process and the complexity of the entire IIRIRA bill) helped make Section 110 a reality. While later legislation delayed implementation of the provision, it is scheduled to go into effect by March 2001.

The IIRIRA, and in particular Section 110, were chosen to be illuminated as the paper’s case study because they are highly representative of the overall shift in border policy in the United States, of the processes of state inclusion and exclusion in flux through bordering and rebordering impulses occurring globally. In order to go into greater depth on this, the following section is an analysis of the key language of the legislation, major supporting committee reports, and public statements surrounding this policy narrative.

The Committee Report argues, from the first page, the bill is ‘ increase control over immigration to the United States’ and ‘reduce aliens’ use of welfare and certain other government benefits’. 85 From the beginning, then, the discourse of ‘alien’ and ‘control’ is set—these become the terms or frame for the rest of the restrictions; they are assumed problematisations, reduced beyond even ‘undocumented’ workers as migrants who cast a burden upon the government. In this report and elsewhere, Smith goes further to cast the migrant as a new ‘threat’:

Increasingly, the failure to secure our borders threatens our national security. 86

Our ‘porous border’, he says, needs to be disciplined to ‘dramatically curb the entry of illegal aliens and narcotics across it’. 87 His political agenda, then, along with many members of his party and some Democrats, was to draw a stronger moral, political, and legal boundary between Americans and the Other, particularly migrants, both legal and undocumented. This is a narrative that casts them into what Shapiro would call ‘threats to valued models of personhood and to images of a unified national society and culture’, in the preferred constitution of American collective identity. 88

In introducing the bill and garnering support for this brand of immigration reform, its powerful sponsor Representative Smith set into motion the dominant narrative for the debate. Smith invoked American ‘national interest’ at an almost apolitical moment in the story of American statehood:

Congress has a historic opportunity to create an immigration policy that serves America’s national interests—not the whims of special interests. 89

Before going on to list the supposedly non-‘special interests’ who endorsed the bill (seemingly all wholesome groups—the Hispanic Business Roundtable, United We Stand, and Veterans of Foreign Wars, The National Association of Manufacturers, Information Technology Association of America, and American Council on International Personnel), Smith cast the bill as a reasonable, broad-based legislation—but implicit in the narrative was the drawing of stronger moral, political, and legal boundaries, built on the larger discursive structure which entailed a particular selectivity:

This bill will secure our borders, protect American lives, make America more competitive in the global marketplace...and encourage immigrants to be self-reliant. 90

In doing so, the appeal to proper patriotic Americans was clearly made; this is the story of myth of American identity which presumably only can be achieved by securitising the borders and migrants; implicit here are Shapiro’s ‘alienating scripts’. 91 Moreover, the bill (clear from even its title) consists of a narrative strategy which paints immigrants as somehow ‘irresponsible’ and not ‘self-reliant’, despite a rather large body of evidence which suggests, if anything, they are more self-reliant and less ‘draining’ of social services than long-standing citizens given what they contribute to the system and economy. 92 From this narrative position, and within larger welfare reform initiatives, severe public benefit restrictions were imposed in the bill (Section V) on both legal and undocumented migrants in the country. They focussed on the working class, restricting their right to bring legal immigrants over and baring legal immigrants from programs such as SSI and food stamps and from Medicaid for 5 years. Moreover, the bill gave states the ability to permanently deny AFDC and Medicaid to legal immigrants. 93

Speaking in support of this provision, Representative Dana Rohrabacher asserted
We are supposed to be watching out for our own people. When we allocate money for is supposed to benefit our citizens, the people that are paying taxes, who fought our wars. Instead [these] are not drained away to illegal aliens. 94

Thus, with a harsh, exclusionary and nationalist narrative strategy at work, some of the most severe anti-migrant, anti-family divisive provisions of the bill were passed through a normative exclusionary ‘bordering’, even directed against those in the state legally and working towards citizenship.

Also embedded in this narrative strategy, and representing the Clinton Administration on the bill, Representative Ed Pastor continued the tale of enforcement and control, emphasising its popular political salience:

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s [INS] efforts to control illegal immigration...The administration has made the enforcement of our borders a high priority...[and] has made control of illegal immigration a top priority. 95

Later in his speech of support, Pastor expressed an unyielding faith in the modern narrative that maintains technological mastery is somehow the simple answer for such public policy problems. Furthering the logic that additional enforcement resources and techniques can somehow effectively seal the border (as seen in the case of Section 110), Pastor continued to argue ‘The INS did not have the personnel or the equipment to properly control this important frontier’. As a case of ‘knowledge-of-regulation’, this narrative strategy suggests that if only the proper technology and resources are employed, regulation is possible: ‘the goal is unambiguous: a border that deters illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and alien smuggling’. By ‘providing the Border Patrol and other INS enforcement divisions with the personnel, equipment and technology to deter, detect and apprehend illegal aliens’, the administration can realise ‘the over-arching goal of the strategy is to make it so difficult and so costly to enter this county illegally that fewer individuals even try’. 96

Other supporters sought to radically alter the bill even more in an effort to militarise the border. Representative James Traficant offered an amendment to HR 2202 to authorise the use of actual military troops along the border to prevent ‘terrorists, drug traffickers, and illegal aliens into the United States’: which would authorise the Secretary of Defense to

make not more than 10,000 Department of Defense personnel available to the request of the Attorney General, the Immigration and Naturalization Service in preventing the entry of terrorists, drug traffickers, and illegal aliens into the United States. 97

While this particular amendment failed, the House passed a similar measure in June 1997. This particular amendment did attract a good degree of attention and heightened the alarm about the seeming ‘chaos’ of the borderlands. Traficant was an enthusiastic supporter of efforts throughout the 1990s to utilise troops in the borderlands and was a chief architect of plans to deploy Low Intensity Conflict Doctrine (LIC) (see below) in such operations, one of which tragically cost a young American citizen’s life in 1998. 98 Some administration officials have even recommended increasing the size of the Border Patrol to 20,000 agents. 99

One of the few counter-narratives to be discussed in the original public debate on H.R. 2202 came from Congressman Patrick Kennedy, a Democrat from Rhode Island. While ostensibly supporting checks on illegal immigration, Kennedy invoked the narrative of ‘America as immigrant society’ and ethnic identity in his vote against the bill:

This mean spirited bill...heightens the fear, hysteria, and anti-immigrant fervor that is running rampant across this country. For this reason, I could not in good conscience support this legislation...It is a travesty that in an effort to curb illegal immigration, the authors of this bill have chosen to scapegoat children. Have we become so desperate that we must resort to these drastic measures? Creating an Orwellian society in which individuals must present a card to verify their legality refutes everything that is right and good about America. It is blind and unfair. It fans the flames of prejudice. 100

In the end, however, the counter-discourses lost to a wave of large political support; the bill passed by a large margin and was signed into law by the President.

Current Developments

In early 2000, the Canadian border issue returned to the public stage. Millennial tensions spawned concern at the New Year that the Canadian border would be used as a conduit for terrorists wishing to ‘infiltrate’ American soil. In December 1999, Algerian-born Ahmed Ressam, a Montreal resident caught trying to enter the U.S. from Vancouver Island with a car full of explosives and was arrested. Taking this as a sign of still too porous a border (despite the restrictions imposed in the 1996 legislation), Congress initiated hearings on the ‘threat’ of terrorists, illegal aliens, and drug smugglers crossing the ‘porous’ U.S.-Canadian borderlands. 101 As in the southern borderlands, the narrative strategy to pose the problem as one of ‘threat’, ‘disorder’, ‘security’ re-emerged.

These hearings were called and spearheaded again by Congressman Smith. In his opening statement for the hearings, Smith claimed border policy has ‘created a situation where terrorists, and also illegal aliens, alien smugglers, and drug smugglers, are increasingly using Canada as a transit country en route to the United States’, and called Canada a ‘Club Med for terrorists’. 102 This discursive move serves to implicate the ‘other’ and create the image of an impression of disorder, threat, and hearken a call for ‘national’ interests and protection.

Moreover, signs that the ‘hardening’ or militarisation of the northern borderlands, while not proceeding at the same scale as in the south, are appearing. 103 A plan to boost the U.S. border patrol presence at the Canadian border by 50 per cent may be the first step toward transforming the world’s longest undefended border into a Mexican-border-style armed frontier. Much of this discourse translates to surveillance techniques based on Low Intensity Conflict Doctrine, essentially borrowed military tactics and equipment such as night vision goggles, underground sensors, day and night-vision cameras that may capture anything from armed drug smugglers to wild animals. 104 ‘The technology significantly enhances the border patrol’s ability to maximize effectiveness and officer safety’ argued Doris Meissner, Commissioner of the INS which includes the US Border Patrol. 105

Such a move signals ‘a fundamental change’ in how the United States treats the Canadian border, said Massimo Bergamini, vice-president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance whose organisation represents Canada’s 2,000 trucking companies:

They want to manage [the northern border] like they handle the southern border [with Mexico]. 106

Within the new ‘frame’, the IIRIRA allocated massive resources into ‘defending’ the US-Mexico border with a high steel fences, barbed wire and 24-hour armed patrols and the Canadian border is woefully understaffed and under-resourced by comparison. The discourse here is significant because as a force in itself, it continuously underwrites and stabilises the assumptions for decision making. For instance, Smith and other Republicans have again called for the implementation of the draconian measures (and the ‘need’ or potential ‘solution’ that bill set out) imposed through the 1996 Act. In a major recent hearing on border security, he maintained ‘The U.S. now needs, more than ever, to develop and implement a system to track the entries and exits of foreign nationals’.

He thus called for the immediate implementation of Section 110, with its strict exit- and entry-checks along the 6,800-kilometre border, that was due to be phased in by March 2001. Smith, in attempting to reinvigorate the narrative strategy, pushed for enforcement in strong terms: ‘I expect Congress will continue to protect Americans from threats at our borders’. 107 Smith said that a proposed repeal of new border checks ‘threatens every American community’ because of ‘illegal aliens, drug smugglers and terrorists who cross our borders at will...Considering the threats we face at our borders, a repeal would be short-sighted and dangerous’. Instead, Smith furthered the discourse of sovereignty:

If Canadians want more liberal immigration and drug policies, that is their decision. And if Americans want to act on security concerns, that is our decision. The issue is one of sovereignty, not who is to blame. 108

In the vein of the chief narrative strategy at work, Smith thus tells a tale of the seemingly sovereign, independent state and assumes the Westphalian moment as national identity is under pressure by economic forces under NAFTA integration. And in doing so, he implicates the power structures which sustain this conceptualisation; such a political representation also suggests the range of options available for setting the political. Other ‘expert’ witnesses at his hearing also furthered the call to securitise the border and this narrative strategy:

To protect America, in my view, it is imperative that we accelerate the establishment of an entry-exit control system...The future Ressams will travel to more remote locations that are less secure. So we must also enhance security between check points. This can best be accomplished by technology and by increasing the number of Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement resources. 109

As the narrative strategy took root, and the problem was defined, high-profile attention increased. While Section 110 was originally largely Smith’s initiative, the threatening nature of the narrative has now attracted further attention from other Republican legislators—who seek to take policy action within its framework: ‘Understaffing at our northern border is jeopardizing the security of our nation’, US Senator Slade Gorton, has recently warned. 110 Even US House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert expressed concern which comes as Congress and the White House discuss plans to increase funding and manpower along the U.S.-Canadian border and a possible reorganisation of the agencies in charge of border security: ‘I think we need to have one agency that is in charge and do away with all the little individual agencies that aren’t co-operating with each other’, Hastert said. Another typical sentiment, ‘We are definitely pushing for additional resources to be sent to the northern border’, came from Jim Troyer, a spokesman for Jack Metcalf, a Republican congressman from Washington state. 111


1.6 Counter-Narratives: Identity and Integration

In keeping with the goal in narrative analysis to elucidate the ‘marginal’ non- or counter-narratives, to seek the ‘remainders’ of narratives in order to understand the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion, at least three strands centred around identity, integration, and image can be identified in the debates over American border policy. As illustrated earlier, there are complex collective identity dynamics in play. The crackdown, as we saw earlier in the thesis, tends to be predicated on racial grounds; officials under the 1996 act and as a result of conservative US Supreme Court rulings, have wide scope to stop individuals who may look ‘suspicious’.

Some have suggested that this ‘racial profiling’ implicates the dark side of new American border control. Those opposed to the 1996 act felt it unfairly discriminated against minority migrant workers in favour of businesses who could use their ethnicity and legal status as reverse pressure on wages; the act was widely criticised for its lack of emphasis on employer sanctions; in fact funding for additional inspectors was eliminated in back-room conference meetings, according to some reports because of large agribusiness lobbying. 112

In some of the dissenting opinions of the conference report, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York expressed the prevailing counter-discursive view on H.R. 2202:

This bill...has been poisoned with unconscionable provisions that violate fundamental American values. Do we need to undercut public health efforts, destroy our environment, debase our fundamental values, violate the rights of American citizens and waste taxpayer dollars on foolish or dangerous enterprises in order to enforce our immigration? Of course not. 113

His statement was followed by a similar message from Representative Luiz Gutierrez of Illinois:

For generations immigrants have played a vital role in our economy, but today immigrants play the role of villain in the Republican’s morality play. By exploiting a false image of millions of illegal immigrants crossing the border into the United States, Newt Gingrich and his Republican allies have crossed the border from decency to indecency. 114

Nonetheless, the restrictions were included in the final bill signed into law. While legislative moves several years later restored some of the public benefits to legal immigrants, in the midst of the very recent border alarm, there are but a few dissenting voices against the call for more stringent profiling against minorities in the stepped-up enforcement efforts. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, at more recent hearings, however, voiced some dissent of this against the rebordering effort:

[W]e must not forget that a fundamental requisite of our freedom is a balance between control of the comings and goings at the border and our civil liberties...Stopping or searching individuals on the basis of race is not effective law enforcement policy, and it is not consistent with our democratic ideals, especially our commitment to equal protection under the law for all persons. It is neither legitimate nor defensible as a strategy for public protection.
Racial profiling at the simply wrong...The recent border apprehensions in anticipation of Y2K problems were made with good, old fashioned police work, not with repressive efforts that militarize the border, discriminate based on race, or infringe on due process rights or diminish the right to an adequate hearing. 115


The reimposition of a narrative of difference, even if actual quantitative flows persist, also weakens integration and restricts development of an integrated borderland by fostering distinct identity patterns and a strict, ‘nation’-‘state’ correspondence. Such correspondence is often predicated in much of the IR literature and is consistent with prevalent enlightenment thinking which postulates a natural—and often homogeneous—correlation and control between place, culture, and identity, a notion that is increasingly becoming outmoded in a globalised world. 116 Thus, the counter-narrative seeks to expand particular political possibilities, such as increased integration. As the Canadian Ambassador Raymond Chretien recently said ‘Our relationship is a one-way mirror...Canadians don’t want a Wall of China at our border’. 117

Some borderlanders are responding to these new divisive moves; for instance, International Falls grocery store owner Phil Paulbeck said he hopes Canada and the United States eventually ease up. He calls the International Bridge over the Rainy River between the cities ‘a kind of Berlin Wall’ that can inhibit traffic and make it harder for citizens of the towns to interact:

In Europe you can drive between many countries just like you’d go from Minnesota to North Dakota here...We live in a place with fewer problems than Europe, yet we have this Checkpoint Charlie. 118

The recent narrative strategy and moves to reterritorialise the borderlands also sets back counter-narratives which have promoted increased, not decreased, integration and even put forth the idea of effectively removing the border. This would, of course, signal a fundamental shift in the North American ‘order’. Some senior immigration officials are convinced Canada and the U.S. should eliminate the border altogether and concentrate their efforts on perimeter defence, but the idea is considered too sensitive (or disruptive of the main discourse) to be voiced. 119

The new narrative strategy of Lamar Smith and others who are now calling for the new security measures to be put in place along the Canadian border sends chills through government circles in Canada. Canada wants to be seen as co-operating with the U.S. on security matters since it has so much riding on the relatively unimpeded movement of goods to and from the U.S. It is one of the reasons Canada is keen to shift the discussion away from increased border controls and toward an examination of perimeter security similar to that developed in Europe under the Schengen treaty. That treaty requires each visa application to be approved by all 15 EU countries. The EU is also working toward a common asylum system that would create a standardised approach to the handling of refugee claims and provide a uniform status for those seeking protection.

Martha Nixon, Assistant Deputy Minister in charge of immigration operations for Canada, said she does not think Canada and the U.S. will ever be able to erect enough border controls ‘to really deter me that’s not a solution, which is why we’ve been trying very hard with the Americans to talk about this whole idea of perimeter’. Instead

If you look at perimeter then you rely on your immigration control officers, your interdiction capabilities overseas, rather than allowing the problem to come here. We think we have to get at the problem before the problem gets to North America. 120

This is clearly a strategy of integration and collective identification around the theme of North America, which also draws a clear parallel to the European Union.

The post-Cold War, NAFTA integration narrative, which ostensibly encourages the facilitation of cross-border travel (deterritorialisation), is thus in tension with these impractical, difference-enforcing movement restrictions and border securitisation or reterritorialisation. As even President Clinton’s 1994 ‘Report on Immigration’ maintained

The openness of the world economy requires making commercial travel and tourism easier and friendlier. The U.S. Economy clearly benefits from playing an energetic role in encouraging travel...[this] may conflict with the need to establish closer controls on cross-border traffic to enforce immigration laws’. 121

Mutual interdependence, international, and sub-national pressures under patterns of globalisation, however, places inherent stress on the capacities of the state for such regulation.

Following our steps in narrative analysis, we have a clear comparison between the dominant and counter-discourse, between what is seen as problem_solving, ‘ordering’ and ‘disorder’, ‘pourousness’, and ‘threat’. Again Santos’s ‘knowledge-as-regulation’ trajectory is useful: the discourse is seen to range from ‘ignorance’ and ‘chaos’ to ‘knowledge’ and ‘order’.

Many of these discourses, however, are marginal to the current debate and thus must qualify as Shapiro’s ‘non-stories’. As recent events testify, the new political climate is reinforcing the dominant narrative of state control. Representative Smith has, as noted, called for enactment of the tough immigration measures in Section 110 and now repeal seems unlikely. Irrespective of the outcome of the political debate, the narrative of an ‘unprotected’ and ‘porous’ borderland have done much to foster public support and understanding of separateness and further the securitisation of the border and migrants.

Such a ‘loose’ bordering arrangement, presumably full of deterritorialised flows, is widely perceived as a hallmark of integration and in many academic circles, historical ‘progress’ in a general sense—despite the fact that the boundaries of the political community are not dissolved but rather expanded. Ironically, though, this new (or counter) narrative is cast as retrogressive and damaging. Dan Stein, for example, director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a major anti-immigration right-wing group recently proclaimed

The porous nature of our northern border is inappropriate to the modern age...The legacy of the world’s largest unguarded land border will soon be history. What we need is a land border that requires inspections. 122

Fewer stronger indictments of globalisation and integrated borderlands might be found. Most recently, the call to securitise the northern border like the southern is being made; surprisingly even several northern border-state politicians, including Senators Spencer Abraham of Michigan and Patty Murray of Washington, have been prodding the administration to put as much effort and staff into defending the northern border as it does in the south. In a recent letter to President Clinton, Mr. Abraham, a staunch critic of Section 110 (and called the ‘illegal alien’s best friend’ by an anti-immigration group 123 ), now is calling for a 50-50 split in resources. Abraham, who wants 5,000 new border-patrol agents hired over the next five years, plans to hold Senate immigration committee hearings on the issue. 124 He uses the rhetoric of a battle to reinforce political differentiation and tell us what is at stake: ‘It is real people on the front lines who make a difference’. 125


1.7 The Metanarrative of Image

All of this leads us to the penultimate step of our tentative narrative analysis method, identifying the resultant ‘metanarrative’ told by the comparison of the two stories and now being reproduced in policy terms. In this case, the counter-narratives employed in the debate are highly marginalised, due to the power dynamics and policy interests which frame the main narrative and lend it wide, bipartisan political support. By understanding the border in a modern territorial, sovereign frame, reducing transnational flows to ‘chaotic’ problems which can be solved by the proper application of technology, ‘control’ becomes the objective.

To return to Santos’s understanding of modern knowledge, the politics of representation involved in presenting the image of border ‘security’ relies on modernity’s ‘knowledge-as-regulation’ form, furthers the trajectory between ignorance designated as ‘chaos’ and ‘knowledge’ understood as ‘order’. This work provides and important epistemological clarification and unmasks a neutralisation which has allowed ’human suffering...[to] be justified in the name of the struggle of order and colonialism against chaos and solidarity’. 126 Much of the emergent metanarrative that seeks to regulate free flows follows this pendulum and because of this dialectic, the metanarrative ‘recasts the issue in such a way to make it more amenable to policymaking’. 127

One way to understand this particular metanarrative is through the concept of image. Earlier in this paper, the question of the ‘image’ of border ‘control’ was raised. There are several significant, but often overlooked studies, which actually suggest that transnational flows (both ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’) persist despite the ‘hardening’ of the borderlands. In effect, the representation or ‘image’ of border security serves a particular political purpose—collective identity construction—through a textual tale when the actual policy, in these terms, is failing. As one Senate staffer candidly admitted, ‘the state is making a feeble effort to control the uncontrollable’. 128

Yielding support to this line, current data collected from the US-Mexico borderlands experiment to aggressively securitise the border suggests that six years and billions of dollars later, undocumented migration and drugs have not slowed. If the unprecedented, aggressive border security strategy prompted by the INS is reviewed, the agency is unable to illustrate any sign that the flow of migrants across the U.S.-Mexico border has slowed; indeed, the flows may have actually increased despite this rebordering strategy. According to the standard (and INS’ own) measurement statistic (apprehensions in the borderlands), the strategy appears to be failing in this sense; agents apprehended more than 1.5 million people last year, 300,000 more in 1993 but under the all-time record 1.6 million in 1986 before the strategy. 129

While some areas through border cities like El Paso and San Diego, are reinforced using the new techniques, flows along both the northern and southern borders appear to be simply shifting to areas less stringently controlled, and often times are more desolate and dangerous. Record numbers of individuals have died in recent years in the attempt, as many as 400 last year. 130 Those already in the United States are actually staying longer. Bribery and corruption at ports, along with smugglers fees, are at record levels. And little evidence suggests that determined migrants are seriously deterred. 131

Moreover, the narrative policy creates an image of control at the margins or the ‘front-lines’, i.e., the borders, but neglects the real effect elsewhere. Interior enforcement, for instance, is vastly neglected; estimates of 40-50 per cent of all undocumented individuals actually entered the state legally and have overstayed their visas, yet 85 per cent of resources to deal with the ‘undocumented problem’ are directed at border securitisation. 70-85 per cent of the drugs in the US come through legal ports of entry—thanks to NAFTA, conveyances on the Mexican side are note checked, leading the Attorney General of Texas to call it the ‘North American Free Trafficking Agreement’. 132

A major U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) report in fact recently reviewed American border policy and found ‘inconclusive results’; ‘despite the allocation of billions of dollars’, GAO ‘did not know whether the was producing the intended results’. 133 Moreover, there is no deadline for completing the strategy, and the Border Patrol cannot say how much money or how many agents it will ultimately need. Outside estimates go as high as 20,000 agents, nearly 2.5 times the existing force. The total cost of the strategy since 1994 is approaching $2 billion.

This metanarrative of control and image, along with what is not being told, casts doubt that a similar strategy would ultimately be ‘effective’ in the northern borderlands with Canada. In terms of Section 110, the INS has no current plans to implement the rules or even know how to go about it contradict claims that the new border checks do not pose any threat of slowing legitimate cross-border traffic. Moreover whilst the image the checks would prevent drugs and terrorism was the main stated public justification for the measure in the rhetoric of Section 110, reduction in these flows would be negligible as the entry/exit system cannot prevent this. The reliance on the narrative of control also masks any counter-discursive trends for co-operation on these matters, one of the better mechanisms for counter-terrorism policy, for instance. Instead undocumented migration became the real concern.

Thus, such evidence reinforces the argument here that the narration of the US-Canadian borderlands, like that in the southern case, is, to some extent, the image or illusion of true ‘border control’ realised through both the physical and strategic metanarrative. The elements of the new strategy end up securitising migrants and the border and by doing so solidify strict territoriality and difference at a high cost in many terms. Finally, some of the most telling data in conflict with the metanarrative speaks to just how large the transnational flows are in comparison to the public policy issues at hand: with hundreds of millions of crossings per year, less than one per cent of all entries, north and south, are illegal. 134


1.8 Conclusions

From its inception as a paramount instance of modern geopolitical ‘mapping’, the US-Canadian border on maps and in dominant discourse has given the appearance it, like all others around the world, separates strict, Cartesian delineated identities which are contained in two modern states. Even the geographical deployment of the boundary (mostly along the 49th parallel—itself a product of the modern geopolitical cartography) suggests the sharp, differentiated ‘sovereign’ political representation of states which are the ‘container(s) of all cultural meaning and site of sovereign jurisdiction over territory, property, and abstract space’. 135 Drawn from a long intellectual strand in Western political thought, this clear realisation of modernity’s ‘dominant spatial story’ has largely formulated the parameters for the political representation and policy of the US-Canadian borderlands. 136 The processes and relations implicit in these discourses help sustain the Westphalian global political system, including the continual reproduction of socially constructed boundaries.

Moreover, as Shapiro and Soguk have pointed out, these dominant genealogical and spatial stories have rendered strict ‘dominant practices of intelligibility’ which structure ‘international relations’ and thus limit ethical and political problematics. 137 The epistemological and ontological structures they rest on are similarly entrenched. Border discourses and state ethico-politcal support of this dominant cartography and imposition of a spatial narrative of identity, as this study suggests, must be read not only as political representations of this but also as metaphors of possibility as the political is redrawn.

A closer examination of the US-Canadian borderlands, in fact, uncovers anything but completely differentiated spatial identities. Instead, a rich and vibrant historical mosaic of cultural, social, and economic interaction transcends this arbitrary political boundary. Moreover, growing transnational flows and contacts (among migrants and others) under NAFTA are prompting such increased integration and potentially contest the collective identities within the greater North American political ‘space’. As this essay has illustrated, these identities are being rendered and reproduced through difference which is manifest through many kinds of ‘borders’ and narrative practices, including those of securitisation. This complicated process has characterised American border policy in the 1990s, culminating in the 1996 IIRIRA, including Section 110, and continues with recent developments to tighten the northern boundary.

Those political narratives are now operating within larger dynamics of a globalised, late modernity such as global corporations, flexible trade and capital flows, and increasingly interdependent, transnational production which interact with a turbulent and increasing pattern of migration, partially brought about by decolonisation, wage disparities, and structural adjustment to information-driven capitalist production. To a large extent this creates a deterritorialised situation which, according to Etienne Balibar, has fostered a ‘new political space’ which is ‘not merely a space in which strategies are formed, and capital technologies and messages circulate, but a space in which the market comes into contact physically and symbolically’. 138 A new kind of cartographic uncertainty is now in play, and the strict ‘control’ and correlation (of nation and state, for example) of sovereign political space is no longer assured (if it ever was). The American borderlands represent some of the extremes of this new global condition, and are thus key ‘laboratories’ for analysis.

In many ways, some of the dialectical tensions inherent in western late modernity manifest themselves: the borderlands provide fluid conduits for the space-time convergence, information flows, and fragmented or multiple identities but also an opportunity to tighten the Westphalian system through the construction and (re)production of physical and psychological borders. There is also the modern tendency and penchant to attempt to simply ‘control’ the boundary—representative terminology repeatedly used throughout the official and non-official literature—as the easy policy answer. Nonetheless, intense bi-national cultural and social interaction and political actions often lead to blurred identities; the borderlands will always be a zone of contested space, symbols, and meanings. 139

This attempt, however, appears as Zygmunt Bauman argues, when ‘in today’s world the great modern project of achieving a unified, managed and controlled space is facing its most critical challenge’ from processes of globalisation such as migration, global civil society links, and other transnational flows and ruptures. 140 Ash Amin and others argue this change is now located in ‘diverse relational webs’, as individuals may be reshaped in contrasting ways in spaces that are not defined as separate ‘national’, ‘local’, or ‘global’, but rather ‘transversal’. 141

But understanding such a condition may require alternative ways of examining and deconstructing this political space, of bringing volume to a variety of discourses centred on many different ‘borderlines’, which seems to be an excellent metaphor for all of these discussions. As this essay has attempted to show, textual analysis which relies on a constitutive theory of language, while not intending to replace or subvert other analyses, such as those based on material factors, by ‘unlocking’ power/discourse structures does offer an inviting and productive lens to such political and social processes and relations. That kind of approach is an alternative, but productive, lens to help understand the power/knowledge dynamics inherent in the dominant scripts and strategies of politics and its possibilities.

Narrative analysis fits well in the I/B/O heuristic tool, especially as a mechanism for empirical work at its intersections. Clearly ‘identities, borders, and orders’ are in play along the U.S.-Canadian borderlands. What is significant here is the interrelationship between these three ‘key’ concepts so important in social and political theory: the reterritorialisation can not be explained solely in terms of one variable (e.g. identity) but rather at least two (identity and borders). Moreover, this triad can rest on a epistemological and ontological process relationalism which holds promise for IR. Identity is continuously differentiated, the border is reinforced discursively and politically through securitisation, and the corresponding socio-political order shifts. Here, the I/B/O triad helps us understand the more complex and subtle dynamics at work in this case of writing space. It examines the processes and relations involved with the border ‘becoming’ what it is, rather than an abstract and arbitrary demarcation that might easily be accepted (and has been in traditional ways of thinking about IR) as reified or ‘given’, a static ‘substance’ oriented entity, instead of a dynamic, changing metaphor for international relations, in the processual sense of the term. By seeing each component in the triad not as static, bur rather in the process of becoming, we can better conceptualise, understand, or potentially change these dynamics.

To take but one, simplified loop around the triad in this case, I maintained borders are being securitised through an emergent, exclusionary ‘metanarrative’ strategy to help present the image of ‘control’ and differentiation—‘strategy’, again, is not used here to suggest a necessary deliberate selection among a variety of alternatives, but rather a potentially unintentional selection of representational practices of identity and space in a particular historical modes. It should also be noted that this is only one approach to this ‘open’ orienting tool; I/B/O is itself ‘neutral’ about ontological, epistemological or methodological preferences and could easily be approached from a variety of other methodological and epistemological perspectives. 142

The triad also assists us in making comparative evaluations, such as with the southern borderlands. Ostensibly, American policy is directed to maintain equal treatment of both the northern and southern borderlands. This official policy line narrates equality and parallel treatment of both neighbouring states; NAFTA dictates consistent treatment. 143 For instance, as illustrated, NAFTA inspired constraints on policy-making made application of Section 110 to just Mexico infeasible, despite language in Congress seeking to do so anyway because ‘of a closer relationship with Canadians’. 144

However, unequal treatment has played out along each boundary: as of the end of September 1999, about 1,200 U.S. customs agents and about 300 border-patrol agents were stationed along the U.S.-Canada border. The U.S.-Mexican border, at about half the length, had about 2,000 customs agents and 7,400 border-patrol agents. While this has been the historical pattern, recent developments, as suggested in this paper, point to at least a increasing convergence of northern and southern border policy. This is particularly evident, in Section 110, in the 1996 Immigration Act, and even more recent activities on the border which have given impetus to renew calls to securitise the northern borderlands. Smith, for example, has said security at the Canada border is ‘woefully inadequate’ and should be modelled on the U.S.- Mexico border where more than 7,000 border-patrol agents, wearing bullet-proof vests and carrying sidearms, staff the 4,800-kilometre southern border around the clock. 145

Interesting conclusions may be dawn from these ‘unmasked’ assumptions and territorial dynamics of the modern spatial representations of the northern and southern borderlands. The US-Canadian case is intriguing both as it is was once the longest undefended frontier in the world (a kind of related ‘order’), but also because of the identity relationships between Canadians and Americans. To some degree, this is cast in relief when compared to the US-Mexico borderlands where somewhat different dynamics of identity and exclusion are practised and represented through a new narrative which emphasises the dominant stories of America, such as the ‘American Dream’, nationalist scriptures, and difference against an ‘Other’ in the ‘brown’ Mexican who is propelled in good part in a globalised free trade regime and American corporate demands for inexpensive labour.

As the textual analysis here illustrates, recent political developments and enabling narratives serve to help construct image and ‘threat’, e.g., terrorism and undocumented migration, to the national political idea and territoriality of the United States. In play too here are nationalism narratives which increasingly resist movement towards heightened integration in North America (something even more clearly evidenced in the southern borderlands with Mexico). Accordingly, political space and difference is ‘written’, thus helping to constitute a project normative order which ‘protects’ the imagined and intersubjective sovereign status of America against Canada, the ‘chaotic’, ‘Club Med for terrorists’.

The attitudes and narratives enabling border ‘control’ and securitisation have typically been understood to be cyclical, pegged to a variety of factors, including economic and political patterns. Most studies suggest when economic downturns occur, immigration is often clamped down and borderlands are hardened to satisfy political demands that the ‘other’ is not ‘stealing’ an American’s job. This paper has illustrated that current developments, however, coming on the trail of the unprecedented border clampdown and immigration restrictions dating from the 1996 Immigration Act, are connected with the need to project the image of a firm, distinct border with Canada (and Mexico) under increased control and surveillance. This is occurring despite an unprecedented economic boom in the US, which if anything, demands less restrictions on labour and whose overarching neo-liberal economic philosophy emphasises freer trade and integration but has resulted in difficult economic restructuring. Counter-narratives, such as those which might recognise terrorism, and to some extent migration, are global phenomena increasingly tied to globalisation and are best solved by co-operative methods and shared information, have been marginalised.

What emerges from this is a kind of ‘metanarrative’ of the border centred on technology, regulation, and image, which enables and supports US policy in both the northern and southern borderlands, seems to increasingly foreclose possibilities for increased integration and movement, and reinforces static notions of collective identity created against someone (the undocumented worker slipping over either border, for example) or something else (the ambiguous threat of drugs or terrorism). Such reterritorialisation at a time of increasing deterritorialising flows of capital and information fostered under the North American Free Trade Agreement and wider patterns of globalisation, suggests the processes of bordering and nation-state interaction and differentiation persist, or at least the image of these is deliberately reinforced.

The ‘metanarrative’ of image which emerges from this analysis suggests a state response of rebordering despite the fact that the state itself has been reconfigured by a variety of constraining factors, such as globalisation, deregulation, non-governmental or financial international regimes, and so forth, just as these processes are reconfiguring immigration ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors. This can be partially understood within modernity’s ‘knowledge-as-regulation’ epistemological stance; this strategy thereby affects and reinforces collective identities despite a larger, more transnationalised ‘order’ under NAFTA. Ultimately, as Sassen correctly identifies, the state is only able to produce this sort of metanarrative as transnational flows like migration are ‘complex, deeply embedded’ phenomena which can be only partly ‘regulated through immigration policy as conventionally understood’—hence the emergent metanarrative strategy. 146 Furthermore NAFTA has meant, as Sassen maintains, two conflicting regimes under transnationalisation have emerged and are in conflict in North America and elsewhere: one governing migration, the other capital and information.

Finally, all this leaves open many important questions and turns us back to the final step in narrative analysis: critical reconstruction in favour of tolerance and for creating strategies to amplify marginalised narratives, interests, and perspectives. Questions must be opened, such as what forms of proper democratisation can be rendered under these transnational forces? Where will the boundaries for majoritarian procedures (which are never simply given) be set? 147 Have integrated North American solutions, such as harmonised, ‘perimeter’ type co-operation on screenings upon initial entry into North America, been foreclosed? What are the normative implications of these exclusionary impulses? Indeed can counter-discourses be spoken for, and moreover, how can their emancipatory agendas be realised without the dialectical trappings laced in modernity?

Moreover, the fate of distinctive borderland or other regional identities, such as those of migrants, underneath or beyond the nation-state, and the socio-cultural interaction which help sustain them, remains unclear in the midst of American state reterritorialisation and its concomitant dominant understanding and reproduction in IR. Clearly, more pluralistic concepts of multiethnic, regional, religious and other identities are going to be needed in the NFATA environment; in the wake of homogenising transnational forces, the question remains open how and if these political representations and structures will emerge in the borderlands of tomorrow.



Note 1: Reflective analysis, according to Robert Keohane and Ole Waever, among others, emphasises interpretation, ‘the reflection of the actors as central to institutions’ examined through non-positivist methods. Reflectivists, Keohane maintained, encompassed poststructural, hermeneutic, and social constructivist perspectives, and serves as a component of the ‘fourth debate’ in International Relations theory. See Ole Waever, ‘Rise and Fall of the Inter-Paradigm Debate’, in International Theory: Positivism and Beyond, eds. Steve Smith, Ken Booth, and Marysia Zalewski (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 196), 164; Robert Keohane, International Institutions and State Power: Essays in International Relations Theory (Boulder, CO: Westview). See also Yosef Lapid, ‘The Third Debate: On the Prospects of International Theory in a Post-Positivist Era’, International Studies Quarterly 33, no. 3 (1989): 235-54. Back.

Note 2: For an overview of the I/B/O project, see Yosef Lapid, Mathias Albert, and David Jacobson, eds., Identities/Borders/Orders: New Directions in International Relations Theory (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000). Back.

Note 3: See William Connolly, Identity/Difference: Democratic Negotiations of Political Paradox (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991) and Murray Edelman, Constructing the Political Spectacle (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988). Back.

Note 4: Victor Konrad, ‘Borderlines and Borderlands in the Geography of Canada-United States Relations’, in North America Without Borders? Integrating Canada, the United States, and Mexico, eds. Stephen J. Randall, Herman Konrad, and Sheldon Silverman (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1992), 191. Back.

Note 5: Boaventura de Sousa Santos posits the paradigm of modernity involves two main forms of knowledge: hegemonic ‘knowledge-as-regulation’ (explained above) and ‘knowledge-as-emancipation’ which involves a trajectory between ‘ignorance designated as colonialism and a point of knowledge designated as solidarity’. This work provides and important epistemological clarification and unmasks a neutralisation which has allowed ‘human suffering...[to] be justified in the name of the struggle of order and colonialism against chaos and solidarity’. See ‘The Fall of the Angelus Novus: Beyond the Modern Game of Roots and Options’, Current Sociology 46, no. 2 (1998): 101. Back.

Note 6: Michael J. Shapiro, ‘Textualizing Global Politics’, in International/Intertextual Relations: Postmodern Readings of World Politics, eds. James Der Derian and Michael J. Shapiro (New York: Lexington Books, 1989), 13, emphasis added. Back.

Note 7: Division C of U.S. Public Law 104-208. Back.

Note 8: Philippe Sollers, Sur le matérialisme: de l’atomisme à la dialectique révolutionnaire (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1974). Back.

Note 9: As Peter Andreas notes, the ‘image’ of border control, along the US-Mexico border, for instance, serves a politically expedient end in the public discourse, even while migration flows and other ‘clandestine’ transnational flows (e.g. drugs) are not reduced. See ‘Escalation of U.S. Immigration Control in the Post-NAFTA Era’, Political Science Quarterly 113 (Winter 1998), [], (1 February 2000). Some of the data which supports this conclusion is presented in a later section of this paper. Back.

Note 10: Sara Mills, Discourse (London: Routledge, 1997), 11. Back.

Note 11: Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, trans. Sheridan Smith (London: Tavistock, 1972), 49.  Back.

Note 12: See Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, vol. 1 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978).  Back.

Note 13: Hugh Mehan, ‘The Discourse of the Illegal Immigration Debate: A Case Study in the Politics of Representation’, Discourse & Society 8, no. 2 (1997): 251. Back.

Note 14: Ibid., emphasis added. See also Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (London: Blackwell, 1951); MikhailM. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981); and Foucault, The Archaeology of KnowledgeBack.

Note 15: Mehan, ‘The Discourse of the Illegal Immigration Debate’, 251. Back.

Note 16: Ibid., 252. Back.

Note 17: Sanford F. Schram and Philip T. Neisser, introduction to Tales of the State: Narrative in Contemporary U.S. Politics and Public Policy, eds. Sanford F. Schram and Philip T. Neisser (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1997), 2. Back.

Note 18: Ibid., 5. Back.

Note 19: See also Anne Norton, Republic of Signs: Liberal Theory and American Popular Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993). Back.

Note 20: Ibid., 7 and Richard Delgado, ‘Storytelling for Oppositionists and Others: A Plea for Narrative’, Michigan Law Review 87 (August): 2411-41. For an example of the dimensions of discursive political economy, see Angus Cameron and Ronen Palan, ‘The Imagined Economy: Mapping Transformations in the Contemporary State’, Millennium: Journal of International Relations 28, no. 3 (1999): 267-88. Back.

Note 21: Schram and Neisser, introduction to Tales of the State, 6. See also, as Schram and Neisser note, Deborah Stone, Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision-Making (New York: Norton, 1997); Martin Rein and Donald Schon, Frame Reflection: Toward the Resolution of Intractable Policy Controversies (New York: Basic Books, 1994), Emery Roe, ed., Narrative Policy Analysis: Theory and Practice (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1994); John Forester, Critical Theory, Public Policy, and Planning Practice (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1993); and M.E. Hawkesworth, Theoretical Issues in Policy Analysis (Albany, NY: State University Press of New York Press, 1988). Back.

Note 22: Frederick M. Dolan and Thomas L. Dumm, eds., Rhetorical Republic: Governing Representations in American Politics (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993). Back.

Note 23: Schram and Neisser, Tales of the State, 2. Back.

Note 24: See Connolly, Identity/Difference, Michael Shapiro, The Politics of Representation: Wring Practices in Biography, Photography, and Policy Analysis (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988), and Edelman, Constructing the Political Spectacle. Back.

Note 25: Ibid., 4, 52. Back.

Note 26: Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge. Discursive formations, can be found, according to Foucault, ‘whenever between objects, types of statement, concepts of thematic choices, one can define a regularity (an order, correlations, positions and functionings, transformation)...subjected [to] the rules of formation. The rules of formation are conditions of existence in a given discursive formation’. Ibem., 38. Back.

Note 27: Roe, Narrative Policy Analysis,Back.

Note 28: For a radical critique of official state discourse, see Frank Burton and Pat Carlen, Official Discourse: On Discourse Analysis, Government Publications, Ideology, and the State (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1997). Back.

Note 29: On modernity’s ‘dominant spatial story’, see Michael J. Shapiro, Violent Cartographies: Mapping Cultures of War (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997 ) Back.

Note 30: Margaret R. Somers and Gloria D. Gibson, ‘Reclaiming the Epistemological “Other”: Narrative and the Social Constitution of Identity’, in Social Theory and the Politics of Identity, ed. Craig Calhoun (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994). Back.

Note 31: Ibid., 46. Back.

Note 32: Schram and Neisser, Tales of the State, 6 and Stone, Policy Paradox. Back.

Note 33: Michael Shapiro, ‘The Ethics of Encounter: Unreading/Unmapping the Imperium’, paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association, Chicago (February 1994). Back.

Note 34: For an excellent example in France of reterritorialisation informed by Giles Delueze and Felix Guattari’s work on coding desire, see Roxanne Lynn Doty, ‘Neoracism and the Politics of Desire’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies 28, no. 3 (1999): 585-606. Back.

Note 35: See, among his work, Michael Shapiro, Language and Political Understanding The Politics of Discursive Practices (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1981), Michael J. Shapiro and Hayward R. Alker, eds., Challenging Boundaries: Global Flows, Tterritorial Identities (Minneaplois: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), and The Politics Of Representation : Writing Practices in Biography, Photography, And Policy Analysis. (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988). Back.

Note 36: Michael Shapiro, ‘Winning the West, Unwelcoming the Immigrant: Alternative Stories of “America”’, in Narrative Policy Analysis. Back.

Note 37: Ibid., 17-18. Back.

Note 38: Ibid., 21. Back.

Note 39: See Priscilla Wald, Constituting Americans: Cultural Anxiety and Narrative Form (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1995). Back.

Note 40: Shapiro, Winning the West, 26.  Back.

Note 41: Ibid., 26. Back.

Note 42: See James C. Scott, Domination and the Art of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990) Back.

Note 43: See Mehan, ‘The Discourse of the Illegal Immigration Debate’. Back.

Note 44: Martin Kuester, ed., Canadian Studies: A Literary Approach (Bochum: Universitätsverlag Dr. N. Brockmeyer, 1995), 9. Back.

Note 45: Much new work in critical geopolitics deals with many of these questions; the juncture of ‘postmodern’ forms and space, and how this plays out for questions of identity, for example, is an intriguing research opening. For work on this, see, for example, Edward Soja, Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory (London: Verso, 1989); John Agnew, ‘Representing Space: Space, Scale, and Culture in Social Science’, in Place/Culture/Representation, ed. James Duncan and David Ley (London: Routledge, 1993); Gerard Toal, Critical Geopolitics: The Politics of Writing Global Space (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997); and Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (Oxford: Blackwell, 1974), among others.  Back.

Note 46: Jeremy Black, Maps and Politics (London: Reaktion Books, 1997), 20. Black’s work goes for a critique of dominant forms of political mapping, unmasking presumptions and biases in modern cartography and how this has served to help structure our worldviews. Back.

Note 47: On the concept of spatial socialisation, see Anssi Paasi, Territories, Boundaries and Consciousness: The Changing Geographies of the Finnish-Russian Border (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1996), 9 and his ‘Boundaries as Social Processes: Territoriality in the World of Flows’, in Boundaries, Territory and Postmodernity, ed. David Newman (London: Frank Cass, 1999). See the seminal work by Frederik Barth, Ethnic Groups and Boundaries: The Social Organization of Cultural Difference (Boston: Little Brown, 1969). See also Jason Ackleson, ‘Discourses Of Identity And Territoriality on the U.S.-Mexico Border’, Geopolitics 4, no. 2 (2000); Mathias Albert, ‘On Boundaries, Territory, and Postmodernity: An International Relations Perspective’, in Boundaries, Territory and Postmodernity, ed. David Newman (London: Frank Cass, 1999); and Peter Sahlins, Boundaries: The Making of France and Spain in the Pyrenees(Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1989). Back.

Note 48: See Lapid, Identities/Borders/Orders.  Back.

Note 49: Sankaran Krishna, ‘Cartographic Anxieties: Mapping the Body Politic in India’, Alternatives 19, no. 3 (1994): 507-21. Back.

Note 50: On the nation-state as ‘container’, see Peter Taylor, ‘The State as Container: Territoriality in the Modern World-System’, Progress in Human Geography 18 (1994): 151-62. Back.

Note 51: This issue is taken up in detail in chapter two of this thesis. For representative discussions of this idea, see, for instance, Richard Sack, Human Territoriality: Its Theory and History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986); David Campbell, Writing Security: United States Foreign Policy and the Politics of Identity (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998); and Shapiro, Violent Cartographies; Anthony Giddens, The Nation-State and Violence (Cambridge: Polity, 1985); J.B. Harley, ‘Deconstructing the Map’, in Writing Worlds: Discourse, Text and Metaphor in the Representation of Landscape, eds. Trever J. Barnes and James S. Duncan (London: Routledge, 1992); and John C. Welchman, ed., Rethinking Borders (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996). Back.

Note 52: David Turnball, ‘Cartography and Science in Early Modern Europe: Mapping the Construction of Knowledge Spaces’, Imago Mundi 48 (1996): 7, 19.  Back.

Note 53: Black, Maps and Politics, 57.  Back.

Note 54: On questions of identity, see for example Ian Angus, A Border Within: National Identity, Cultural Plurality, and Wilderness (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1997) and Seymour Martin Lipset, Continental Divide: The Values and Institutions of the United States and Canada (London: Routledge, 1990). On sub-national cultural linkages, see Lauren McKinsey and Victor Konrad, Borderlands Reflections: The United States and Canada, (Borderlands Monograph Series 1) (Orono, ME: University of Maine Press, 1989). Back.

Note 55: W.H. New, Borderlands: How We Talk About Canada (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1998), 6.  Back.

Note 56: Frances Kaye, ‘Borderlands: Canadian/American Prairie/Plains Literature in English’, (Orono, ME: University of Maine Borderlands Project, 1989), 1.  Back.

Note 57: See Arlene Wilson, ‘NAFTA’s Effect on Canada-U.S. Trade and Investment’, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress 97-889 E (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 1997). Back.

Note 58: See Oscar Martinez, Border People: Life and Society in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1994). Martinez’s models of border interactions provide an excellent context for understanding and projecting borderlands interaction generally; his four models include alienated, co-existent, interdependent, and integrated. His analysis, however, relies on traditional state assumptions and serves to reproduce those discourses and moreover can suffer from a lack of contextualisation in wider processes and systems like globalisation.  Back.

Note 59: See U.S. House Subcommittee on Immigration, ‘The Impact of Section 110 of the 1996 Immigration Act on the Canadian-American Border’ (Committee Print J-105-61, 14 October 1997) (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1998).  Back.

Note 60: Pamela Ferdinand Special, ‘Northern Border Has an Extra Edge: Security Tighter on Friendly Vermont-Canada Frontier’, The Washington Post, 24 January 2000, [], (24 January 2000). Back.

Note 61: Prit J. Vesilind, ‘Common Ground, Different Dreams’, National Geographic 177 (February 1990): 100.  Back.

Note 62: Wayne Preston, quoted in ibid., 104.  Back.

Note 63: Francis Boots, quoted in ibid., 110. Back.

Note 64: Pierre Berton, quoted in ibid., 111. Back.

Note 65: The Honourable Larry Smith, ‘Support Immigration Reform’, Floor Statement, U.S. House of Representatives, Congressional Record, 30 January 1996 (Washington, D.C. U.S. Government Printing Office), H930. Back.

Note 66: The House bill was H.R. 2210, the Senate version (which differed very slightly), S. 1664. Congress eventually passed the conference report for the legislation but the bill was then consolidated into a large omnibus spending package enacted late in the second legislative session of the 104th Congress to appropriate spending for FY97. This omnibus spending bill is known as the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY 1997 (H.R. 3610, U.S. Public Law No. 104-208). Back.

Note 67: U.S. Public Law No. 104-208. Back.

Note 68: See Max J. Castro, ed., Free Markets, Open Societies, Closed Borders? Trends in International Migration and Immigration Policy in the Americas (Coral Gables, FL. North-South Center Press, 1999). The securitisation of migrants is receiving new theoretical interest; for representative examples of this work, see Ole Waever et al, Identity, Migration, and the New Security Agenda in Europe (London: Pinter, 1993), Nana Poku and David T. Graham, eds., Redefining Security: Population Movements and National Security (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998), and Wayne Cornelius et al, eds., Controlling Immigration: A Global Perspective (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994). Back.

Note 69: See Joyce C. Vialet, ‘A North American Free Trade Agreement and Immigration’, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress 93-62 EPW (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service), 1. Back.

Note 70: Peter Marden, ‘Geographies of Dissent: Globalization, Identity, and the Nation’, Political Geography 16, no. 1 (1997): 38. Back.

Note 71: For but two examples, see James G. Gimpel and James R. Edwards, Jr., The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform (Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1999) and Frank D. Bean, Georges Vernez, and Charles B. Keely, Opening and Closing the Doors: Evaluating Immigration Reform and Control (Washington, DC: The Urban Institute Press, 1989). Back.

Note 72: Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Ten Steps to Securing America’s Borders (Washington, DC: Federation for American Immigration Reform, 1989), i, iii,1, 12, 14 and How to Combat Illegal Immigration ((Washington, DC: Federation for American Immigration Reform, 1995), [], (20 February 2000).  Back.

Note 73: H.R. 2202. Back.

Note 74: William J. Krouse, ‘Immigration and Naturalization Service’s FY1999 Budget’, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress 98-269 EPW (7 August 1998) (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 1998), 1, 2.  Back.

Note 75: Ibid., 2. Back.

Note 76: Title I, Section 110, ‘Automated Entry-Exit Control System’ of U.S. Public Law 104-208. Back.

Note 77: Ibid. Back.

Note 78: Laura Baxter, General Counsel for the US House Immigration Subcommittee, interview with author, Washington, DC, 11 November 1998 and Lisa Kesler, General Counsel for the US Senate Judiciary Committee, interview with author, Washington, DC, 11 November 1998. Baxter and Kesler were key players in the legislative struggle over Section 110. Back.

Note 79: For more on Section 110, see William J. Krouse and Ruth Ellen Wasem, ‘Immigration: Visa Entry/Exit Control System’, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress 98-89 EPW (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 1998). Back.

Note 80: Ibid. Back.

Note 81: Author interviews with congressional officials; Barry Brown, ‘INS Seeks Relief From New Law Seen Slowing Border Crossings’, The Washington Times (27 February 1998): 2A. Back.

Note 82: For an overview of the implications of the provision, see House Subcommittee on Immigration, Hearing on ‘The Impact of Section 110 of the 1996 Immigration Act on the Canadian-American Border’, (Serial No. J-105-61) (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1998).  Back.

Note 83: For an overview of Section 110, see Theodore H. Cohn, ‘Cross Border Travel in North America: The Challenge of U.S. Section 110 Legislation’, Canadian-American Public Policy 40 (1999): 4. Back.

Note 84: For more on this, see ibid.  Back.

Note 85: U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Report on the Immigration Control and Financial Responsibility Act of 1996 (S. 1664) (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1996), 2 Back.

Note 86: The Honourable Lamar Smith, ‘Opening Statement’, Hearing on ‘Border Security and Deterring Illegal Entry into the United States’ before the Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, 105th Congress (23 April 1997) (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1997), 1. Back.

Note 87: Ibid., 2. Back.

Note 88: Shapiro, ‘Winning the West’, 17-18. Back.

Note 89: The Honourable Lamar Smith, ‘Extension of Remarks - Support Immigration Reform’, Congressional Record, 30 January 196 (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1996), H930. Back.

Note 90: Ibid. Back.

Note 91: Shaprio, Winning the West, 26.  Back.

Note 92: See Michael Fix and Jeffrey S. Passel, ‘Trends in Noncitizens’ and Citizens’ Use of Public Benefits Following Welfare Reform: 1994_97’, Report of the Urban Institute, March 1999 (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, 1999), [], (20 February 2000) and Michael Fix, Jeffrey S. Passel, and Wendy Zimmermann, ‘Statement on The Use of SSI and Other Welfare Programs by Immigrants’, Testimony before the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, 23 May 1996 (Washington, DC: The Urban Institute), [], (20 February 2000). These are two highly regarded reports from the well-regarded, non-partisan Urban Institute. Back.

Note 93: Title V, U.S. Public Law 104-208. Back.

Note 94: The Honourable Dana Rohrabacher, ‘Conference Report on H.R. 2202, Illegal Immigration Reform And Immigrant Responsibility Act Of 1996’, Congressional Record 25 September 1996, (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1996), H11071. Back.

Note 95: The Honourable Ed Pastor, ‘Immigration and Naturalization Service Comprehensive Southwest Border Enforcement Strategy—Extension of Remarks’, Congressional Record 20 March 1996 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1996), E390-E392. Back.

Note 96: Ibid. Back.

Note 97: Amendment to H.R. 2202 offered by The Honourable James Traficant, U.S. House of Representatives, Congressional Record, 12 March 1996 (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1996), H2124. Back.

Note 98: The death of Esequiel Hernandez resulted from violent action by Joint Task Force 6 (JTF-6) (Covert US Military Operations) along the Texas-Mexico borderlands. Hernandez was shot by a marine while tending his goats. This ‘series of failures’, according to a 1998 U.S. House report, forced a scale-back of military operations along the borderlands. See ‘Oversight Investigation of the Death of Esequiel Hernandez: A Report of Chairman Lamar Smith to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims of the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives’ (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1998). See also Roberto Suro, ‘Report: U.S. “Failures” Led to Border Death’, Washington Post (13 November 1998): A3. Back.

Note 99: David LaGesse, ‘Border Residents Urge Removal of Military’, Dallas Morning News, 16 July 1997. Back.

Note 100: The Honourable Patrick J. Kennedy, ‘Extension of Remarks H.R. 2202 - The Immigration in the National Interest Act’, Congressional Record, 26 March 1996 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1996), E457. Back.

Note 101: See Hilary Mackenzie, ‘Canada a “Club Med for Terrorists”: Congressman Slams Agencies for Bungling Arrest of Algerian Storm Delays Hearings On Border Issue’, The Ottawa Citizen, 26 January 2000 [], (27 January 2000). Back.

Note 102: Statement of the Honourable Lamar Smith, Chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, United States House Committee on the Judiciary, ‘Hearing on Terrorist Threats to the United States’, 25 January 2000 [], (27 January 2000). Back.

Note 103: On the narratives and militarisation of the US-Mexico borderlands, see Ackleson, ‘Discourses Of Identity And Territoriality’. Back.

Note 104: On Low-Intensity Conflict Doctrine, see the groundbreaking work by Timothy Dunn, The Militarization of the U.S.-Mexico Border, 1978-1992 (Austin, TX: The Center for Mexican-American Studies, University of Texas at Austin, 1996). Back.

Note 105: Peter Morton, Marina Jimenez, and Charlie Gillis, ‘Human Smugglers Turn to Canada as U.S. Cracks Down on Southern Border: Americans Install Underground Sensors in Bid to Catch Illegals’, National Post (Canada), 17 March 1999, ‘U.S. Immigration News’, Center for Immigration Studies, 18 March 1999, []. Back.

Note 106: Barrie Mckenna, ‘Critics Assail U.S. Plan to Beef Up Customs: Terror Alerts Prompt Increased Border Security’, The Globe and Mail (Canada), January 28, 2000, ‘U.S. Immigration Enforcement’, Center for Immigration Studies, 28 January 2000, []. Back.

Note 107: The Honourable Lamar Smith, ‘Congress Responsive to Both Border Threats and Congestion’ (Press Release), 24 September 1998. Back.

Note 108: Ibid. Back.

Note 109: Statement of Gary Stubblefield, ‘Establishing A Comprehensive Strategy To Combat Terrorism’, Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, Hearing on Terrorist Threats to the United States, 25 January 2000 [], (27 January 2000). Back.

Note 110: Ross Anderson, ‘Canadian Urges U.S. to Learn to Work Together’, Seattle Times (17 February 2000), ‘U.S. Immigration Policy News’, 18 February 2000, (Center for Immigration Studies), []. Back.

Note 111: Jan Cienski, ‘House Speaker Wants Revamping of U.S. Border Controls’, National Post (Canada) 28 January 2000, ‘U.S. Immigration Enforcement’, 28 January 2000 (Center for Immigration Studies), []. Back.

Note 112: U.S. House of Representatives, ‘Conference Report on H.R. 2202, Illegal Immigration Reform And Immigrant Responsibility Act Of 1996’, 25 September 1996, (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1996). Back.

Note 113: The Honourable Jerrold Nadler, ‘Conference Report on H.R. 2202’, H11085. Back.

Note 114: Ibid., H11086. Back.

Note 115: Statement of the Honourable Sheila Jackson Lee, Oversight Hearing on Terrorist Threats to the United States, 25 January 2000 [], (27 January 2000). Back.

Note 116: See Martinez (1994), and, for example, Marden, ‘Geographies of Dissent’, and Zygmunt Bauman, Postmodern Ethics (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993). Back.

Note 117: Quoted in Anderson, ‘Canadian Urges U.S. To Learn to Work Together’.  Back.

Note 118: Associated Press, ‘Canada Border Security Increased: Travelers at Falls Facing Longer Stops’, 28 December 1999 from ‘U.S. Border Enforcement: 28 December 1999’, (Center for Immigration Studies), []. Back.

Note 119: Barrie Mckenna, ‘Critics Assail U.S. Plan to Beef Up Customs: Terror Alerts Prompt Increased Border Security’, The Globe and Mail(Canada), January 28, 2000. Back.

Note 120: Andrew Duffy, ‘Ottawa Urges U.S. to Adopt Continental Security Ring Anti-terrorist ‘perimeter’: Plan Would Mean Harmonized Visa Rules, Sharing Intelligence’, Southam News National Post, 29 January 2000, ‘Canadian Immigration News’, 31 January 2000, (Center for Immigration Studies), []. Back.

Note 121: William J. Clinton, Accepting the Immigration Challenge: The President’s Report on Immigration (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1994), 26, 42. Back.

Note 122: Dan Stein, quoted in Frederic J. Frommer, ‘ Arrests Bolster Backers of Law Requiring Tracking of Foreigners’, Associated Press 26 December 1999. ‘U.S. Border Enforcement’, 28 December 1999, Center for Immigration Studies, []. Back.

Note 123: Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), ‘Border Checks Deemed “Critical First Step”‘ (Washington, DC: Federation for American Immigration Reform, 1998), [], (10 October 1998). Back.

Note 124: Mckenna, ‘Critics Assail U.S. Plan’. Back.

Note 125: US Senator Spencer Abraham, quoted in ‘Senators Urge Increased Border Security’, John Hughes, Associated Press Wire, 10 February 2000, ‘U.S. Immigration News’, 11 February 2000 (Center for Immigration Studies), []. Back.

Note 126: Santos, ‘The Fall of the Angelus Novus’, 101. Back.

Note 127: Roe, Narrative Policy Analysis, 4. Back.

Note 128: Kesler, interview with author.  Back.

Note 129: INS apprehension data. See Immigration and Naturalization Service, ‘Southwest Border Apprehensions’, [], (24 February 2000). Back.

Note 130: Dave Harmon, ‘Changing Strategy: More Agents, Immigrants Travel Dangerous Terrain’, Austin American-Statesman, (28 November 1999), [], (18 January 2000). Back.

Note 131: Frank Bean et al, Illegal Mexican Migration and the United-States Mexico Border: The Effects of Operation Hold the Line on El Paso/Juarez (Austin, TX: Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, 1994). Back.

Note 132: Maria Jimenez, ‘The Militarization of the U.S.-Mexico Border’, In Motion Magazine (6 September 1998) [], (10 September 1998). Back.

Note 133: United States General Accounting Office, Illegal Immigration: Southwest Border Strategy Results Inconclusive; More Evaluation Needed (Washington, DC: General Accounting Office, 1998).  Back.

Note 134: David E. Lorey, The U.S.-Mexican Border In The Twentieth Century’ (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1999), 3. Only 1.1 per cent of the U.S. population consisted of undocumented Mexicans in 1996; the figure is even less for undocumented Canadians. See Enrique M. Loaeza Tovar, Susan Martin et al, Binational Study of Migration Between Mexico and the United States (Mexico City/Washington, DC, 1997), ii. Back.

Note 135: R.B.J. Walker, ‘State Sovereignty and the Articulation of Political Space/Time’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies 20, no. 3 (1991): 445-61. Back.

Note 136: Whilst covered in chapter 2 of this thesis, the discussion of this lineage is too large to be developed here. However, it is widely recognised that modern sovereignty claims and representations follow from a tradition which begins with Plato, stretches through Locke, Hegel, Hobbes, and others. A good part of poststructural critique (such as Richard Ashley, R.B.J Walker, David Campbell, and others) interrogates this pattern. See, for example, Shapiro, Violent Cartographies. Back.

Note 137: See Shapiro, Violent Cartographies and Nevzat Soguk and Geoffrey Whitehall, ‘Wandering Grounds: Transversality, Identity, Territoriality, and Modernity’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies 28, no. 3 (1999): 675-98. Shapiro, for instance, presents a Levinasian alternative to this logjam, and Soguk and Whitehall propose the concept of ‘transversality’ to come to terms with punctures in modernity’s ‘dominant spatial story’. Back.

Note 138: Etienne Balibar, ‘Racism and Nationalism’, in Race, Nation, Class, trans. Chris Turner, eds. Etienne Balibar and Immanuel Wallerstein (New York: Verso, 1991), 43. Back.

Note 139: See Michael Kearney. ‘Borders and Boundaries of State and Self at the End of Empire’, Journal of Historical Sociology 4, no. 1 (1991): 52-74.  Back.

Note 140: Bauman, Postmodern Ethics, 16.  Back.

Note 141: Ash Amin, ‘Placing Globalization’, Theory, Culture, and Society 14, no. 2 (1997): 129. Back.

Note 142: For examples of such work, including post-structural, interpretivist, and positivist approaches, see essays in Lapid, Albert, and Jacobson, eds., Identities/Borders/Orders.  Back.

Note 143: See Cohn, Cross-Border Travel in North America.  Back.

Note 144: Kesler, interview with author. Back.

Note 145: . Hilary Mackenzie, ‘Border Crackdown Denounced’, The Gazette (Montreal), 27 January 2000 [], (27 January 2000). Back.

Note 146: Saskia Sassen, ‘The Transnationalization of Immigration Policy’, in Borderless Borders: U.S. Latinos, Latin Americans, and the Paradox of Interdependence, eds., Frank Bonilla, Edwin Melendez, Rebecca Morales, and Maria de los Angeles Torres (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998), 57. Back.

Note 147: See S.L. Hurley, ‘Rationality, Democracy, and Leaky Boundaries: Vertical vs. Horizontal Modularity’, The Journal of Political Philosophy 7, no. 2 (1999): 126-46. Back.