Immigration as Local Politics: Re‐Bordering Immigration and Multiculturalism through Deterrence and Incapacitation


Small town governments in North America have, in recent years, posed the most aggressive challenge to national immigration policy and multiculturalism. Immigration‐related municipal ordinances were introduced by local officials to defend the rights of local residents from the adverse effects of (unauthorized) immigration. Municipal measures proposed to control im/migrants not only present a constitutional challenge to the federal pre‐emption in matters of immigration law (which ineptitude they purport to redress), they expand on what Didier Bigo called a ‘governmentality of unease’, where migration is increasingly rationalized as a security problem. Municipal measures are re‐bordering the inclusion/exclusion of (unauthorized) migrants by expanding the territorial and political rationality of immigration control from the border to the interior, and by imposing and dispersing new mechanisms of control into the everyday spaces and practices of im/migrants regarded as ‘illegal’ and undesirable. This article examines two immigration‐related municipal measures (Hazleton, PA and Hérouxville, QC) which impose a logic of immigration control and identity protection through deterrence and incapacitation strategies, and thus erode civil rights of im/migrants.