The 1970s was a time of growing government repression, incarceration, and subsequent radical activism across the United States and Mexico. This is reflected in the migration, incarceration, and organizing efforts of José Jacques Medina, a Mexican activist who fled to the United States to escape political persecution after his involvement in the 1968 student movement in Mexico City. After the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) apprehended and incarcerated Medina inside an immigration detention facility in El Centro, California, activists, inspired by radical movements such as the Black Panther Party and the Third World Left more broadly, organized to gain Medina political asylum and avoid deportation. This story of radical transborder organizing highlights the connections between the carceral state and migration, prison movements and migrant rights. It also exposes the increasing power of the detention and deportation regime in the United States as the INS collaborated with federal agencies such as the FBI to repress political dissent and control migration.
La Lucha Obrera No la Para la Frontera (There Are No Borders in the Workers’ Struggle): José Medina, Transborder Organizing, and the Carceral State
Jessica Ordaz is an assistant professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. She received her doctorate in American history from the University of California, Davis. During the 2017–2018 academic year, she was the Andrew W. Mellon Sawyer Seminar postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington, focusing on comparative racial capitalism. Her first book, The Shadow of El Centro: Migrant Incarceration and Solidarity, will be published in March 2021 by the University of North Carolina Press (Justice, Power, and Politics series).
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Jessica Ordaz; La Lucha Obrera No la Para la Frontera (There Are No Borders in the Workers’ Struggle): José Medina, Transborder Organizing, and the Carceral State. California History 1 May 2021; 98 (2): 3–23. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ch.2021.98.2.3
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