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Contesting CitizenshipIrregular Migrants and New Frontiers of the Political$
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Anne McNevin

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231151283

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231151283.001.0001

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From City to Citizen

From City to Citizen

Modes of Belonging in the United States

(p.118) 5 From City to Citizen
Contesting Citizenship

Anne McNevin

Columbia University Press

This chapter turns to the United States and reflects, in particular, on the mass mobilization of irregular migrants in 2006 when millions of people took to the streets in cities across the country, seeking recognition for undocumented people and pathways to citizenship. It shows how the terms in which irregular migrants stake their claims to belong reflect different levels of contestation, from those that seek to extend to approved outsiders the limits of citizenship as they stand, to those that rupture the conceptual vocabulary that shapes our understanding of political belonging in general. In addition, the chapter considers the spatial dimension of the political that emerges in and through the struggles of irregular migrants. It investigates the divergence in policy, policing, and activist milieus across different spatial scales and levels of government. It highlights a number of place-specific examples whereby irregular migrants are becoming politically active and claiming certain rights. It suggests that in the process of this activism a mode of belonging is enacted that challenges the limits of citizenship in its conventional territorial form.

Keywords:   United States, immigration policy, irregular migrants, citizenship, belonging, activism

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