Today, there was a rally in the Diag by a student organization called Migrant and Immigrant Rights Advocacy (MIRA), as I am sure many of you saw. MIRA is an immigrant justice group, which today was protesting the pending deportation of a Mexican immigrant and Ann Arbor resident named Lourdes. Throughout the day, MIRA sought signatures of a petition on Lourdes’ behalf, while also protesting the classification of undocumented immigrants as “illegal”.
From speaking with a member of the organization, I learned that Lourdes’ visa recently expired and she did not leave the country, nor does she wish to, because she has three children who were born in the United States and are American citizens. The MIRA member also told me that recently, the police raided Lourdes’ house without a warrant, arrested and deported Lourdes’ husband on the spot, and had her sign papers that put into motion her deportation process. Both Lourdes and her husband, I was told, held steady jobs and are able to support themselves monetarily. Articles from a separate protest in support of Lourdes here and here.
Admittedly, I don’t know all of the facts, so it is hard for me to say whether or not Lourdes should be deported. But using Shklar’s definition of citizenship, we can determine, per Shklar whether or not Lourdes is a citizen.
We know by now that Shklar bases citizenship on voting and standing, and working and earning. Regarding voting, Shklar would say that Lourdes, as an undocumented immigrant, is clearly not a citizen because she does not possess the right to vote. Subsequently, she lacks standing as she does not even have the right to remain in this country. Regarding earning, however, Lourdes did work, earn and have monetary independence. Shklar has explicitly stated, “We are citizens only if we ‘earn’” (p. 67). Lourdes has earned in this country, yet she is being deported. So what is she?
Seemingly, Lourdes is in an in between state of citizenship, half within the realm and half excluded. She earns, yet she can’t vote. And because she can’t vote, and lacks legal standing as a citizen, she can’t stay in this country. Effectively, the government is saying she is less of a citizen than the millions of people who possess the vote, but are unemployed and do not earn. These people would not be considered citizens by Shklar either, yet are able to remain in this country.
I do think the multifaceted requirements to Shklar’s citizenship prove problematic in situations such as this one, where Lourdes is a half-citizen. It would be interesting to see what Shklar would say about someone like Lourdes, and whether or not she deserves to be deported. Certainly, she is not a citizen in the legal sense of the word, and that is why she is being deported. But she is an earner, so does she deserve to be deported? I know it’s a loaded question, but what do you guys think? Citizen or not? Deported or allowed to stay?