The virtual discussion will analyze the impacts of border closure, the discourses that support these measures in all countries of the continent, and hyper-surveillance over different migrant groups, especially on cross-border populations and those in need of special protection.In addition, the virtual discussion will reflect on the possible changes emerging from the pandemic as a result of border control in the region.

The global pandemic has justified a perverse juncture between public health policies and the politics of mobility in diverse national spaces across the Americas. This has resulted in the state and mass media associating the figure of the foreigner with the notion of “pest.” Thus, migrant populations – even more if they are irregularized migrants – are perceived as a menace to public health and as presumed vectors of contagion. Amidst economic collapse, the figure of the foreigner is perceived as a “public charge” for migrant receiving states. Under this framework, strengthening border security and  intensifying internal control mechanisms is legitimized and justified by the state. As of March 2020, the United States invoked the Public Health Service Act of 1944 resulting in legally exceptional measures that prevent entry of individuals who pose a “risk” to public health. Occurring concurrently with the U.S. militarization of the US-Mexico border, the pandemic has suspended asylum applications, expedite deportations, and denied  the entrance of asylum seekers. Though the United States represents an extreme case of border closure, border control and closure measures have been adopted globally, making a significant impact on the life of asylum seekers, refugees, and irregularized migrants in transit. 


In the context of the pandemic, border closure and hyper-surveillance disproportionately effects irregularized migrants and persons in transit. Tourists, students, and businessmen have been restricted from the free return and entry to their home countries across Americas, with exception to those who took humanitarian flights. The Argentinean provides a case of exception as the country has implemented “agreed-upon deportations” directed to Korean and Europeans tourists who breached the strict quarantine imposed.

Event Video

In mid-March 2020, nearly every country on the continent declared a health emergency. These countries closed their borders and adopted a series of exceptional measures, arguing that forced immobility as a  solution to contain the virus. Following the shutdown of borders,  more than 30 researchers from the Americas, interested in analyzing the migratory question politically, organized virtually and began to consider the particular situation of millions of migrants, women, men, children and adolescents, from the continent and/or from other latitudes, all of whom are mobile and in transit.

Original Concept: Soledad Álvarez Velasco, University of Houston

General Coordination:Soledad Álvarez Velasco, University of Houston & Ulla D. Berg, Rutgers University

Research, Systematization and Development of Contents: Soledad Álvarez Velasco, University of Houston;  Ulla D. Berg, Rutgers University; Lucía Pérez-Martínez, FLACSO-Ecuador; Mónica Salmon, New School for Social Research; Sebastián León,  Rutgers University.

Coordination polyphonic map: Iréri Ceja Cárdenas: Museo Nacional/ Universidad Federal de Rio de Janeiro

Project Advisor: Nicholas De Genova, Universidad of Houston.


Translation team Spanish - English: 

Soledad Álvarez Velasco, Mónica Salmón, Ulla Berg, Luin Goldring, Tanya Basok, Ingrid Carlson, Gabrielle Cabrera.

Translation team Spanish - Portuguese: 

Iréri Ceja, Gustavo Dias, Gislene Santos, Elisa Colares, Handerson Joseph, Caio Fernandes, María Villarreal.

Website Design and Development:  ACHU! Studio; Francisco Hurtado Caicedo, Social Observatory of Ecuador

Photography: David Gustafsson y Cynthia Briones.

Video: David Gustafsson.

Some of the researchers of this project are members of these CLACSO Working Groups

English translation and proofreading by Gabrielle Cabrera, Rutgers University.

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