The Issue With Paperwork

Within the paper “Migrant “Illegality” and Deportability in Everyday Life” the author, Nicholas De Genova, touches upon a key point about cultural differences we talked about in class. In his analysis of migrant “illegality” he explains the theoretical issue of legalization through paperwork. In order to become “legalized” in the United States, one must have the proper paperwork. However, this concept is culturally biased. Many do not have paperwork such as birth certificate or any other documentation. A similar situation was discussed in class, where the refugee camp leader did not have papers to prove his birth and citizenship because it was not customary to record and document things in this way in his hometown.

This poses an issue in the legal system and our reliance on documentation and paperwork as a sole indicator of proof. In the same sense, cultural gaps and differences reveal a systemic problem in the legalization system. These issues reduce the ability for people to enter a country within the constraints of their system. A “verifiable past became the condition of eligibility for a documented future” (428) in America. For many this is impossible. De Genova states that the system is inherently biased towards the people with a certain sociopolitical condition who have the documentation have access to fake papers. I think this paper draws attention to problems within our very process of legalization in the country. We cannot operate under a system that preclude certain persons the right to legally exist.