by Bill Ong Hing
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “deportation” (noun) refers to “the action of carrying away; forcible removal, esp. into exile; transportation.” Connotative of an involuntary relocation and exilic subjectivity, “deportation” as a state policy and legislative practice is by no means limited to Asian immigrants. The very condition of deportation—wherein individuals are, due to shifting politics, contested demographics, and changing cultural dynamics, compulsorily moved out of country—is at the forefront of the expulsion of Spanish Jews in 1492; it is apparent in the forced removal of Native peoples during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries per a larger U.S. imperial project. Deportation in the frame of twentieth-century human rights violations is at once manifest in the mandated relocation of European Jews to segregated ghettos and concentration camps during World War II; one could also extend this frame to encompass the contemporaneous evacuation, incarceration, and internment of Japanese Americans. Last, but certainly not least, the post-9/11 deportation of multiple populations (particularly from Muslim and Arab lands, Southeast Asia, and Latin America) underscores the term’s present-day resonance.