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Journal article

Reproducing Deportability: Migrant Agricultural Workers in South-western Ontario




Tanya Basok, Danièle Bélanger , and Eloy Rivas


Deportability, or a threat of deportation, can be viewed as a technique of discipline employed to make migrant workers efficient and compliant. Under the threat of deportation, migrants accept dangerous, dirty, degrading and difficult jobs for low pay. Deportability also prevents them from challenging their working and living conditions either individually or collectively. Most of the literature on deportability applies to unauthorised migrants. Yet, as illustrated in this article, migrants employed legally on temporary contracts are also disciplined through a threat of deportation. While for unauthorised migrants, it is the receiving state that is the most important actor (re)creating the regime of deportability, for legally employed migrants, other actors––such as employers, the sending states, recruiters and international organisations––assume a more important role in employing the threat of deportation as a disciplinary technique. In this article, we explore how power is reproduced in this disciplinary regime of deportability. We examine migrants' responses to the techniques of discipline that subjugate them. We argue that when migrants adopt calculative and reflexive practices to avoid deportation and secure their own employment, they often end up reproducing the disciplinary power of the deportation regime.

Journal title

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

File Attachments


    Economic sectors

    Agriculture and horticulture workers and General farm workers

    Target groups


    Geographical focuses


    Spheres of activity

    Law, Political science, and Sociology