13 Sep

Geographical Review Preview: Producing “Illegality:” The Racialization of Mexican and Central American Asylum Seekers in the United States

As record numbers of Mexican and Central Americans arrive at the US-Mexico border, they encounter an asylum system that has evolved to exclude them. After detailing the specific legal changes that racialize these nationalities through criminalization, this study uses asylum data to illustrate how the current structure of the asylum process produces illegality for Mexican and Central Americans seeking protection in the US. We draw on asylum data outcomes for the largest groups filing defensive asylum claims to halt their deportation over the past decade to emphasize the impact of changing laws and the divergent impact of the implementation of those laws on Mexican, Guatemalan, Honduran, Salvadoran, Chinese, and Indian asylum seekers. While Chinese and Indian nationals have relatively high rates of success obtaining asylum, their Mexican and Central American counterparts are consistently denied asylum, partially as a result of their criminalization in the US asylum system.