When it comes to discussing the on-going immigration crisis that global states find themselves immersed in, the legitimacy of migrants and refugees to cross borders is always at the forefront. Often overlooked is the legitimacy of states imposing borders and restrictions in the first place. In Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move, Reese Jones radically reframes and subverts the discussion of immigration control by questioning the existence of borders and states.
As implied in the title, Jones explores the way “the border produces the violence that surrounds it.” The maintenance of violent borders, Jones argues, is part of a broader system “that seeks to preserve privilege and opportunity for some by restricting access” for others. Reese interrogates the borders of the European Union, the border between the U.S. and Mexico, among others, to show how lines on a map have turned into deadly spaces with such areas becoming more militarized over time. Beyond such visceral violence, Jones explores the way borders contribute to the failure of developed countries to seriously confront climate change.
Along with such critiques and research, the book gives voice to refugees and migrant workers, such as the Abu Rahmas – a Palestinian family living with the violent borders and checkpoints imposed by the Israeli government. Unwilling to live side by side with militarized walls and barriers, the Abu Rahmas, along with other residents and allies, constantly engage in protests against such encroachments. By highlighting voices of the marginalized and the excluded, Jones shows how their acts of resistance are attempts to let the world know they still exist, despite how much borders try to dehumanize them.
As wars rage on across the Middle East, furthering the diaspora of refugees, the violence of borders and states becomes terrifyingly palpable. By pinpointing the problem on the structural violence of states, Reese Jones points to signs of hope found in migrants – how such movement is an act of resistance; a repudiation of structures of domination. Radical and accessible, Violent Borders is a timely, thought-provoking read, providing a better understanding of today’s refugee crisis.