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Immigration Law

The Everyday Mistreatment of Transfronterizo Commuters on the Mexico-U.S. Border: A Q&A with Borderlands Scholar Estefanía Castañeda Pérez

Todd Miller, The Border Chronicle, Mar. 3, 2022 - Crossing the border everyday brings the normalization of surveillance and interrogation, but what happens if you refuse to comply with the CBP facial recognition camera?

"The data that I have collected has been eye-opening, but one of my most interesting and unexpected findings is that while there were many individuals who recognized that they had experienced human and civil rights violations by CBP, the vast majority perceived these violations as “normal.” In other cases, many even went as far as legitimizing and internalizing the negative treatment from CBP officers. From this puzzling finding, I decided to shift my research focus on the normalization of violence and its consequences, which has implications for understanding how oppressive systems such as carceral spaces and surveillance become so internalized that people police themselves even when no one is watching."

"Estefania Castañeda Pérez is doctoral candidate at the UCLA Department of Political Science. Trained as an interdisciplinary scholar, her research primarily focuses on mental health, gender, race and ethnicity, the conceptualization and consequences of violence, and border politics. Her dissertation examines how the lives of transborder commuters are impacted by their border crossing experiences and interactions with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers. Secondly, her dissertation examines the various dimensions of violence experienced by transborder commuters throughout their daily lives, including legal, state, and gender violence. She is conducting virtual and in-person fieldwork for her dissertation, including interviews, participant observations, and surveys, at three ports of entry: Tijuana-San Ysidro, Nogales (Sonora)-Nogales (Arizona), and Ciudad Juárez-El Paso. Castañeda Pérez’ educational aspirations and research projects have been motivated by her experience commuting daily from Tijuana to San Diego as a transborder student for a borderless pursuit of education.  Her research is supported by the APSA Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, the National Science Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Castañeda Pérez has a master’s degree in political science from UCLA, and a bachelor’s degree in political science with an honors minor in interdisciplinary studies from San Diego State University.

Prior to UCLA, Castañeda Pérez was a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Madrid (2014-2015) and worked to prepare high school students to compete in Model United Nations competitions. Currently she serves as the Chief Development Editor at the Chicanx-Latinx Law Review at the UCLA School of Law, and participates in various public education initiatives supporting transborder youth and asylum seekers in the Tijuana-San Diego border region."