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Incomplete Inclusion: Legal Violence and Immigrants in Liminal Legal Statuses


© 2015 University of Denver/Colorado Seminary. Although US political discourse suggests otherwise, no simple dichotomy separates "documented" from "undocumented" immigrants. By examining the integration prospects of immigrants in "liminal" legal standings beyond undocumented status but short of permanent residency, we demonstrate that even when they are legally present, the implementation practices of a multilayered immigration policy regime may cause them harm. Our analyses draw on 108 qualitative interviews with immigrants who have been granted humanitarian relief, including U Visa holders, beneficiaries of the Violence against Women Act provisions, political asylees, and Temporary Protected Status recipients. As a result of "legal violence," these legally present immigrants remain vulnerable to blocked mobility, persistent fear of deportation, and instability, confusion, and self-blame.

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