Pregnant on Arrival
Making the Illegal Immigrant
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
312 pages, 140.00 x 216.00 x 38.00 mm, 5
- ISBN: 9780816681006
- Published: August 2013
“State alert as pregnant asylum seekers aim for Ireland.” “Country Being Held Hostage by Con Men, Spongers, and Those Taking Advantage of the Maternity Residency Policy.” From 1997 to 2004, headlines such as these dominated Ireland’s mainstream media as pregnant immigrants were recast as “illegals” entering the country to gain legal residency through childbirth. As immigration soared, Irish media and politicians began to equate this phenomenon with illegal immigration that threatened to destroy the country’s social, cultural, and economic fabric.
Pregnant on Arrival explores how pregnant immigrants were made into paradigmatic figures of illegal immigration, as well as the measures this characterization set into motion and the consequences for immigrants and citizens. While focusing on Ireland, Eithne Luibhéid’s analysis illuminates global struggles over the citizenship status of children born to immigrant parents in countries as diverse as the United States, Hong Kong, and elsewhere. Scholarship on the social construction of the illegal immigrant calls on histories of colonialism, global capitalism, racism, and exclusionary nation building but has been largely silent on the role of nationalist sexual regimes in determining legal status. Eithne Luibhéid turns to queer theory to understand how pregnancy, sexuality, and immigrants’ relationships to prevailing sexual norms affect their chances of being designated as legal or illegal.
Pregnant on Arrival offers unvarnished insight into how categories of immigrant legal status emerge and change, how sexual regimes figure prominently in these processes, and how efforts to prevent illegal immigration ultimately redefine nationalist sexual norms and associated racial, gender, economic, and geopolitical hierarchies.
A Note on TerminologyIntroduction
1. Shifting Boundaries through Discourses of Childbearing2. Counternarratives of Migration Law and Childbearing3. Baby Gives Birth to Parents: Direct Provision and Subject Formation4. The “Right to Life of the Unborn” and Migration Controls5. Reproductive Futurism and the Temporality of Migration Control6. From Childbearing to Multiple Sexuality and Migration StrugglesConclusion
Eithne Luibhéid exquisitely details how the Irish became embroiled in a politics over the sexuality and reproduction of mainly African refugees, leading to the controversial referendum denying birthright citizenship. Pregnant on Arrival is the story of a nation of emigrants that suddenly finding itself a nation of immigrants, with a wealth of insights for anyone interested in how the law constructs the ‘illegal alien’ and renders pregnant mothers and their babies as threats to the nation.—Leo R. Chavez, author of The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens, and the Nation
Pregnant on Arrival makes an enormous, essential contribution in demonstrating how women’s bodies and their sexuality become central to immigration controls. By bringing the question of queerness to bear on the ‘threat’ of pregnant asylum seekers in Ireland, Luibhéid charts how a queer migration framework that simultaneously attends to geopolitics, nation-building, gender, and race, can shed light on the sexual politics of determining who is a legitimate immigrant, asylum seeker, and neoliberal subject worthy of citizenship.—Monisha Das Gupta, author of Unruly Immigrants: Rights, Activism, and Transnational South Asian Politics in the United States