The Political Economy of Securitization of Migration in Canada: A Critical Historical Account

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Alejandro HERNÁNDEZ-RAMÍREZ, Carleton University, Mexico
Making use of political economy, securitization studies, and critical race theory under a transnational perspective, I analyze a number of historical immigration episodes in Canada—as case studies—to identify and explain how varied migration security formations pre-date the current theoretical emphasis on securitization, particularly after 9/11. These cases range from the constitution of the first Immigration Act in 1869 that identified ‘undesirable’ immigrants, such as poor or disabled people, to the establishment of a broader set of strategies to deter the immigration of Black people, seen as “unsuitable to the climate and requirements of Canada” and a threat to its eastern economy, to the double standard in Canada's immigration policy from the 1960s onward, when protecting asylum seekers escaping from communist regimes, but not those escaping from fascist, right-wing regimes due to their alleged threat of (left-wing) politicization. Thus, using a long-durée analytical perspective, I deploy and discuss the notions of social security and homeland security as part of Canada’s historical securitization processes. In doing so, I also show how Canada’s migration security formations have been constitutive elements in its nation-building process as an imagined white, dual settler/colony. These varied security formations have been produced by evolving politico-economic processes, the creation, implementation, and constant revision of legal regimes, and the Othering, racialization, and minoritization of non-white subjects. Thus, the resultant Other (vis-à-vis the Self or white, Anglo/French individual with Christian roots) is differentially constructed by the intersection of gender, ethnicity/race, class, ideology, sexuality, ability, and religion, and posited as a threat to Canada’s (white) nation formation. Overall, a more comprehensive analysis of diverse security formations reveals that migration has been regulated and securitized along various scales, fields, and temporalities in Canada, even if using a language different than that of securitization/risk.