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Border vigilante/Militia activity, the National Security State, and the Migrant “Threat”



The relationship between border security and immigration has always been contentious and politically divisive. Using the cases of the War on Drugs (WoD), the War on Terror (WoT) and then the Migrant “Caravan” of 2018, I show that border security and enforcement have followed a historical pattern of racialised and gendered hierarchies using the prominent language frames of crime, war and invasion to negatively construct the migrant as “other” and the national security state as protector. These policies have shaped an environment by which state violence and state-sanctioned violence of non-state actors, such as vigilante/militia groups, become an acceptable response to protect the “Homeland” from vilified “others”. Racialised and gendered hierarchies are deeply entrenched in the US national security state, have (re)produced through time and thus, historically, the system has been designed to promote an environment by which practices of exclusion and expulsion become justified by both state and non-state actors. This calls into question definitions of terrorism, which do not adequately address the violence perpetrated by government forces and/or those non-state actors who are explicitly and implicitly supported by the nation-state.

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