Date of Award

Spring 5-2023

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Master of Arts (AM/MA)

Degree Type



In recent years, the United States implemented two migrant expulsion policies: The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), a policy which forces migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. to remain in Mexico for the duration of their immigration proceedings, and Title 42, a policy that expelled migrants back to Mexico under the guise that it was a preventative measure for spreading COVID-19. I ask: What are the experiences of asylum seekers subjected to expulsion policies, and what do their experiences tell us about the structure of the U.S. Border Enforcement System? Relying on six months of ethnographic fieldwork at the Matamoros camp in 2020, 21 interviews with asylum seekers conducted using testimonio methodology in 2020 and 2022, and some content analysis of government documents and official statements on MPP and Title 42, I argue that asylum seekers' experiences illuminate how the United States has created a network of actants that fluidify border geographies and deter, redirect, and stop migration through the persistent threat or routine exposure of migrants to violence. I coin this network—the Border Enforcement Matrix. The findings presented here have important implications for the well-being and human rights protections of asylum seekers.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Cynthia Feliciano, Department of Sociology

Committee Members

Margot Moinester, Elizabeth Korver-Glenn, David Cunningham