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Placed within the context of the past decade's war on terror and emergent Latino migrant movement, Reform without Justice addresses the issue of state violence against migrants in the United States. It questions what forces are driving draconian migration control policies and why it is that, despite its success in mobilizing millions, the Latino migrant movement and its allies have not been able to more successfully defend the rights of migrants. Gonzales argues that the contemporary Latino migrant movement and its allies face a dynamic form of political power that he terms "anti-migrant hegemony". This type of political power is exerted in multiple sites of power from Congress, to think tanks, talk shows and local government institutions, through which a rhetorically race neutral and common sense public policy discourse is deployed to criminalize migrants. Most insidiously anti-migrant hegemony allows for large sectors of "pro-immigrant" groups to concede to coercive immigration enforcement measures such as a militarized border wall and the expansion of immigration policing in local communities in exchange for so-called Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Given this reality, Gonzales sustains that most efforts to advance immigration reform will fail to provide justice for migrants. This is because proposed reform measures ignore the neoliberal policies driving migration and reinforce the structures of state violence used against migrants to the detriment of democracy for all. Reform without Justice concludes by discussing how Latino migrant activists - especially youth - and their allies can change this reality and help democratize the United States.
Alfonso Gonzales is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lehman College of the City University of New York.