Deferred Action and the Discretionary State: Migration, Precarity and Resistance
Sameer M. Ashar, Susan Bibler Coutin, Jennifer M. Chacon, and Stephen Lee, Deferred Action and the Discretionary State: Migration, Precarity and Resistance Citizenship Studies (2017).
In the United States, the lives of undocumented people have become increasingly precarious due to increased surveillance, enforcement, criminalization, and detention. In this context, deferred action, a form of prosecutorial discretion in which the government declines to pursue removal and provides temporary work authorization, has become a source of both hope and vulnerability. Based on fieldwork, interviews, and legal analysis, we delineate the forms of partial inclusion experienced by deferred action recipients and explore the position from which they can make claims on the US state. Our analysis advances citizenship theory by detailing the relationship between the discretionary state and its transitory, noncitizen subjects, as well as how this relationship is complicated by resistance from youth activists and their allies. The liminal legality afforded by deferred action provides partial but insecure relief from the precarity experienced by the undocumented.