Re-Thinking Illegality as a Violence Against, Not by Mexican Immigrants, Children, and Youth Jocelyn Solis* Essay

8052 WordsOct 26, 201233 Pages
Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 59, No. 1, 2003, pp. 15-31 Re-Thinking Illegality as a Violence Against, not by Mexican Immigrants, Children, and Youth Jocelyn Solis* Brooklyn College Sociohistorical theoty was used to examine illegality as a form of state violence that bea~w upon the formation of undocumented Mexican immigrants. This article proposes a theory of dialectical violence that integrates societal with personal enactments of violence through case illustrations of Mexican youth, ht a grass- roots association defending immigrants’ rights, youth develop within conflicting discourses about undocumented immigrants proposed by society, family, and com- munity. Methods included ethnographic analysis of the association’s documents, a workshop in which five participants attthored a booklet with texts and illustrations about their lives in the city, and an interview with their mothers. Findings illustrate how Mexican youth enter a cycle of violence as a result of their undocumented status, socioeconomic class, language and ethnic-racial memberships. The study of youth violence has persistently focused on members of minor- ity groups from lower income backgrounds (Eron, Gentry, & Schlegel, 1994). This is an institutional injustice in research literature that produces a notion of minorities as worthy objects of inquiry only when they are emblematic of un- desirable characteristics: being marginalized, poor, and likely to fail according to society’s standards. Understandably, much research has addressed this institu- tional bias by portraying minorities in something other than in a deficit model, with a more positive light around a number of issues, such as language (Labov, 1968; Zentella, 1997), education (Gibson & Ogbu, 1991; Trueba, 1999; Valdes, 1997), or identity (Cross, 1995; Matute-Bianchi, 1991), and by re-conceptualizing *Co~xespondence concerning this

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