Place, Policy, and Salvadoran Transnational Identities in Rural Arkansas
This chapter asks what happens when transnational migrant families own homes, plant trees, and establish businesses in small-town America but still lack a viable path to legal residency. Based on extensive fieldwork in small, rural Arkansas communities with Salvadoran transnational migrants, the author explores the contradictory dynamics between a growing identification with local geographies and continuing legal exclusion. Most Salvadoran migrants are caught between categories of national belonging; classified as either “illegal” or “temporary,” they lack rights to political participation either in the United States or in El Salvador. These legal exclusions create a mobile space of exception around the body of the migrant, which facilitate the exploitation of migrants' labor. Legal exclusion also contributes to social exclusion through the contradictory production of both invisibility and hypervisibility. Despite this, transnational migrants continue to put down roots in their new places of settlement.
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