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Returnees, Deportations, Family Separations, Circular Migration, Human Smuggling, Smuggling Networks, Indigenous Migration, Clandestinity, Immigration Enforcement, Violence


US immigration enforcement has led to a rise in the number of deportations. Several studies identify deportees as more likely to attempt re-entry to reunify with family members in a variety of international settings. These demographic changes have prompted some scholars to theorize how deportation produces a unique mobility subject: the unintended returnee. The importance of studying unintended returnees is amplified when we examine the 3.1 million unauthorized migrants deported by the US between 2005-2013. Over 1.5 million children living in the US were impacted by these removals. Data from the US Department of Homeland Security, indicate that among those who remigrate, the majority are those with US born children. While unauthorized reentry, is not new, the forms that return migrations take reveal changes in the organization of clandestine border-crossings that heighten the risk of violence. To provide insight on how these changes may impact deportees who remigrate, this article examines the chain of events that followed a 2006 immigration work-site raid and deportation of a migrant who was separated from his US based family. The concept of clandestinity – licit and illicit strategies that enable surreptitious cross-border mobility – is employed to understand how this person, following deportation, leverages his involvement in a human smuggling network as a smuggler (coyote) to reenter without authorization. By drawing inferences from a single case, I elucidate how immigration enforcement measures, along with limited avenues for humanitarian relief, may create conditions that compel deportees to defy the power of the state to produce involuntary transnational families and rely on illicit clandestine migration services to enable family reunification.


The first volume of conference papers is online and forms a whole issue of the journal Représentations dans le monde anglophone, la revue électronique du CEMRA.

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Representations published at the University of Grenoble, France