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This book addresses the challenges confronting undocumented immigrants and those charged with regulating their actions. Focusing on the personal narratives of undocumented people, it pursues an interdisciplinary and language-based approach to the study of how undocumented immigrants experience border-crossing. The important distance between lived experience and the ability to represent it is a central issue in border studies – but it is one that can be missed if the focus is upon, for example, borders and security, or borders and technology, or borders and judicial rights.
Addressing the translation and interpretation of personal narratives in a fickle, shifting and often defiant legal context, Robert Barsky elicits the often arbitrary and ever-shifting combination of laws, regulations and rules that contribute to a sense amongst immigrants themselves that the legal context is absurd, untenable, unpredictable, changeable, and even illusory or "fictional". Drawing on a broad array of academic studies – including interpretation and translation studies, border studies, law, human rights, communication, critical discourse analysis, sociology and Latin American studies – he thus demonstrates the inherent limits of a system of ‘immigration control’ that, he argues, needs to be radically reconsidered if its current injustices are to be avoided.