In light of increasing media coverage and public concern over the population of foreign individuals in the domestic United States, Dr. Marie Price’s presentation on the U.S. machinery of deportation that has been functioning at high speed since 2000 was eye-opening for many of the IAS students and faculty in attendance. As a professor of Geography and International Affairs at George Washington University and President of the American Geographical Society, Dr. Price illuminated how geography can play a pivotal role in deciding the fate of cases of deportation (specifically cases of Latin American individuals). Whether a case gets taken to a court in Texas or to a court in California has an extreme effect on whether the individual involved will become another of the nearly 5 million “unintended returns” since 2000. Furthermore, the geography of immigrants’ origins has statistically been showed to be influential in cases of deportation. While virtually all undocumented Cubans in the United States are allowed to remain in the country, those undocumented who come from México do not share the same fortune.
Aside from discussions on the geography of deportation, Dr. Price highlighted how the U.S. machinery of deportation has been easy and beneficial for all sides of the political system to ignore. In fact, as she pointed out, the issue of mass deportations already occurring in the United States was not brought up until the final presidential debate this election season. It seems that the majority of the country prefers talking about what the next steps of immigration reform should look like instead of recognizing and evaluating the incredible deportation of immigrants that has continually been occurring. Looking towards the future, Dr. Price predicts that the actions of large-scale deportation may become more visible to the public as Donald Trump seeks to prove his loyalty to his campaign promises on immigration reform. What is harder to predict is how the public will react to this increased visibility of an issue that has been present for decades.