Targeted: Homeland Security and the Business of Immigration
In Targeted: Homeland Security and the Business of Immigration, Deepa Fernandes dispels the myths that immigration issues are primarily about post-9/11 homeland security by revealing their roots as economic, labor, environmental, and race issues.
Through historical analysis, interviews, and good old muckraking, Fernandes discusses how illegal immigrants do not often view themselves as lawbreakers coming to establish U.S. citizenship—though many falsely hope that hard work will result in the achievement of the American Dream—but are illegal workers crossing to serve as members of a legalized underclass of wage-earners who perform tasks critical to both the U.S. economy and the American way of life. To complicate matters, Fernandes also examines how legal immigrants to the U.S., including valid green card holders, students, contracted workers, asylum seekers, permanent residents, and military personnel are increasingly affected.
The parts of Fernandes’s book that stand out are the personal stories of various people trapped by a system the U.S. government and media claim is “protecting the homeland” and “securing the border” when the reality is quite different. For many immigrants finding work and establishing a life in the U.S. is an imperative only because of the destruction of their home-state economies by U.S. economic policy and legislation, such as NAFTA, which is inflicted upon other countries through globalization and global finance firms like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (both of which are U.S. based).
Fernandes’s rake does get bogged down in the muck towards the end, especially in her extensive and often repetitious chapter on the effect the white supremacy movement has on immigration reform. However, she does receive kudos for refusing to let the Democrats off the hook. Nor does she let individual Americans escape culpability, as it is the American lifestyle - dependent on cheap goods, foods, and services - that fuels government and corporate exploitation of immigrant wage-labor. For the individuals caught by an unjust and racist system whose tales form the core of the book, the treatment of immigrants is not just a frustrating dance with bureaucracy, but is inhumane, a reality Fernandes targets with solid investigative journalism and sensitivity.