'He used to be a Pollero' the Securitisation of Migration and the Smuggler/migrant Nexus at the Mexico-Guatemala Border

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Josef Korbel School of International Studies, International Studies


Migration, Smuggling, Mexico-Guatemala border, Ethnicity


Based on ethnographic fieldwork in an unmonitored crossing along the Mexico-Guatemala border, this article explores how enhanced border securitisation made migration and border smuggling more suspect, illicit, and risky. In a region where identities have been fluid, official documentation is uneven, and immigration policing is racialised, border residents increasingly use racial stereotypes and fears to conjure the Central American migrant ‘other’ to protect themselves from being mistaken as smugglers and as migrants. Residents cope with an unpredictable landscape through silence, rumour, and distancing themselves from migrants which further justifies securitised migration policies and makes migrants and residents less secure.

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