LELACS Conference: Travel and Language - Narrating the Immigrant Experience

755 Library Road, Rochester, NY 14626

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"Missing Persons: Disability and U.S. Immigration Policy"

This presentation addresses the topic of "Travel and Language. Narrating the Immigrant Experience" obliquely rather than directly. As a starting point, I acknowledge that the routes designed or dreamed by the disabled members of traveling communities from Latin America to the U.S. border run into a legal blockade that largely prevents them from bringing their bodies and their knowledge across that border into the land in the North. And so, rather than addressing the presence of disabled migrants and asylum seekers in the U.S. and the transfer of their know-how and skills from one national territory to another, I will be talking about "missing persons." That is, my focus is on the absence of a large and historically variable category of human beings and the loss of their potential contributions under exclusionary immigration policies that are based on racist, ableist, and capitalist ideologies and systems. I will conclude by offering three arguments for challenging their exclusion.

Beth E. Jorgensen is Professor Emerita of Spanish in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Rochester.

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