Against the immigrant, for the law
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This thesis explores the immigrant and the role of state laws in constructing the image of the immigrant as a problem, specifically in Georgia House Bill 87, passed in Georgia in 2011. It uses qualitative research methods to investigate the politics of restrictive immigration law in a state with both a market for unskilled workers and nativist desires to protect the state from ‘unwanted’ immigrants. It concludes that a popular anti-federal government discourse hides a more complex relationship where the state of Georgia (lead by the Republican Party) uses imagined federal failure to legitimate claims to state level powers. With this power, the state law employs a racialized/ethnicized language that constructs the immigrant as “illegal”, poor, uneducated, and Hispanic, and blames the immigrant for the economic problems in the state. Ultimately, this thesis argues that the law aims to control the social territory of the state and increase the already tense everyday life of the undocumented immigrant.