Mobility, Control, and the Pandemic Across the Americas: First Findings of a Transnational Collective Project

Abstract / Resumen / Resumo

Before COVID-19, countries in the Americas –deeply unequal spaces historically determined by migrants’ mobilities –, broadly speaking, had hardened their migratory policies provoking the augment of undocumented migrants, the limitation of the right to refuge, exacerbating hence the tension between mobility and control. Based on initial findings of a collaborative and comparative research project between 19 countries in the Americas, the article argues that current pandemic justifies a perverse intersection between health policies and politics to control mobility that has configured a de facto state of exception in migration matters which magnifies the existing tension between mobility and control. By reviewing press material, policy documents and complementing with migrants’ testimonies from certain countries of North, Central, South American and Caribbean regions, the article proves that common situations are being shaped across the Americas which disproportionately affect regional and extracontinental undocumented migrants and asylum seekers confining them to everyday hyper-precarization and dispossession of rights. It also shows that new forms of migrants’ mobility are emerging. The article focuses thus on five intertwined common situations: 1) border closures and augment of internal policing; 2) suspension or limitation of the right to refuge; 3) selective hyper-nationalist aid programmes; 4) the adoption of a new anti-migrant legal architecture, and, 5) new forms of mobility and the migrant struggle. As the article suggests, against current pandemic and hyper-control, migrants’ mobilities are strategies of resistance with spatial effects on national and transnational scales across the continent.