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Mobilization Strategies within The Immigrant Rights Movement in Los Angeles


As the United States experiences another increase in anti-immigrant laws and targeted enforcement practices of the undocumented community, immigrant rights organizations are responding with mobilization strategies as forms of resistance. Through interviews and observations with immigrant rights advocates in Los Angeles, I identified six mobilization strategies. These include: (1) educational and awareness campaigns; (2) counter surveillance; (3) legal representation efforts; (4) non-violent protest and demonstrations; (5) the New Sanctuary Movement and Sanctuary Cities; and (6) “Get Out the Vote” campaigns. Each of these strategies responds to a specific form of repression and illustrates how immigrant rights groups respond to U.S. immigration agencies’ efforts to reinforce power relations, fear and panic, deception, surveillance, lack of fair and due process, threats to the unity and solidarity among immigrant rights groups, and other harmful effects. These mobilization efforts reveal how advocates and organizations challenge the institutions by establishing leaders and advocates from this community. Also, these strategies reveal the particular sort of power relationship within which migrants and immigrant rights organizations are struggling. The variation among these six strategies demonstrates how mobilization strategies are fluid and changing based on the challenges migrants face at a specific time and place. As a result, advocates in these organizations were found to focus on these six strategies to contest immigration related legal violence and migrant illegality efforts in Los Angeles in 2016. Further analysis could focus on how legal violence and migrant illegality shape the experiences of the undocumented community in the post-2016 election.

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