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Keywords:

  • illegality;
  • immigration enforcement;
  • US–Mexico border;
  • agriculture;
  • dairy;
  • migrant workers

Abstract:  Our goal in this paper is to identify how recent escalations in immigration enforcement and changes in migration practices affect the ability of the state to continue to serve two of its key “productive” functions: protecting capital accumulation within industry and ensuring the state's own political legitimacy in the eyes of the public. We draw on our ethnographic research on Latino migrant dairy farm workers in Wisconsin to examine the ways in which a group of migrant workers experiences the process of being enforced as “illegal” bodies. We find that migrant dairy workers’ palpable sense of “deportability” articulates with the specific structure of dairy work in ways that make the economically and politically “ideal” migrant: compliant at work and invisible otherwise.