Nevins, Joseph 1964-
Nevins, Joseph 1964-
Office—Earth Science and Geography, Vassar College, 124 Raymond Ave., Box 735, Poughkeepsie, NY 12604-0735. E-mail—[email protected]
Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY, department of earth science and geography, Mary Clark Rockefeller assistant professor of environmental studies, then associate professor of geography.
Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the "Illegal Alien" and the Making of the U.S.-Mexico Boundary, Routledge (New York, NY), 2002.
Dying to Live: A Story of U.S. Immigration in an Age of Global Apartheid, photos by Mizue Aizeki, Open Media/City Lights Books (San Francisco, CA), 2008.
Writer, educator, and geographer Joseph Nevins earned his doctoral degree in geography at the University of California at Los Angeles. He then joined the faculty at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, in the Department of Earth Science and Geography. Nevins serves as both an assistant professor of geography and as the Mary Clark Rockefeller assistant professor of environmental studies. He has a wide range of both academic and research interests revolving around political geography, including territorial and social boundaries, various types of political violence such as that which is frequently seen under imperialism, human rights, international law, and human behavior in the wake of major atrocities, including what forms of social justice are imposed and by whom. In the course of his research, Nevins has traveled to a number or regions where such issues are prevalent, including East Timor, Mexico, and the border region between the United States and Mexico. His courses focus primarily on geographically related political issues, including terrorism and illegal immigration. He is the author of a number of books, including Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the "Illegal Alien" and the Making of the U.S.-Mexico Boundary, A Not-So-Distant Horror: Mass Violence in East Timor, and Dying to Live: A Story of U.S. Immigration in an Age of Global Apartheid, as well as Taking Southeast Asia to Market: Commodities, Nature, and People in the Neoliberal Age, for which he served as editor.
In Operation Gatekeeper, Nevins looks at the immigration issues that center around the border between the United States and Mexico, focusing his analysis around the United States' 1994 federal policy that was dubbed "Operation Gatekeeper" in reference to increased attempts to police the border and control the influx of illegal immigrants. The United States used the policy to step up the levels of monitoring on the U.S.-Mexican border, particularly in California and Arizona, an effort which included adding more Border Patrol agents to the region until the number was more than twice what it was prior to the enactment of the new policy. In addition, funding allocated to Immigration and Naturalization Services for the area were also doubled at an increase of approximately four hundred million dollars, with an eye toward improving the technology used in surveillance at the border. Nevins points out that this new gatekeeping policy, designed to stop illegal aliens from crossing the border into the United States, is a far more proactive approach than the United States government's previous stance, which primarily consisted of tracking down illegal immigrants who had already made it across the border and were living in the U.S. and then returning them to Mexico. He links this new approach to a combination of circumstances. The influx of illegal immigrants had reached the point during the early 1990s that their addition to the work force and also the drain they represented on social services in the United States had begun to make them a genuine threat to the nation's economic and social well-being. This required the U.S. government to take more drastic measures to stem the flow of individuals across the border. At the same time, political pressures required the United States to take a stance that was less invasive and less turbulent than mass deportation of illegal aliens in order to balance the interests of various groups, both those in favor of free trade and those pressing for action regarding the influx of illegals from Mexico.
Nevins breaks down the policy for readers, discussing its high and low points and including various propositions that have been included since its adoption. Along with his analysis, Nevins offers readers a history of U.S. immigration policies and behavior as pertains to the border with Mexico, and how the issues have shifted through the years. He shows why he feels this policy has done little to ultimately limit the flow of illegal immigrants, while it has served to further endanger the lives of those individuals attempting to gain entrance into the U.S. Stephen L. Hupp, in a review for Library Journal, observed that "Nevins does a good job of presenting the case, but the result is a narrowly focused work." John C. Blakeman, reviewing the book for the Law and Politics Book Review Online, remarked that it "adds a detailed understanding of how national immigration policy can be grounded in local social concerns, which themselves are grounded in geographical concerns arising out of an international boundary between the United States and Mexico."
A Not-So-Distant Horror addresses the United States' foreign policy as it pertained to East Timor, a portion of an island nation off the coast of Australia that was formerly under Portuguese rule until its declaration of independence in 1975. However, West Timor, which had originally been a Dutch colony, had long ago been incorporated into Indonesia, and there were those who felt East Timor should follow suit. Just weeks after the small country became independent, U.S. President Gerald Ford and then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger traveled to meet with President Suharto of Indonesia in Jakarta. When Suharto informed the U.S. leaders that he planned to invade East Timor, their only response was that they preferred for him to wait until they themselves had returned home, a request that Suharto honored. When Indonesia attacked, the vast majority of the weapons they used over the course of the war were provided by the United States, making the U.S. complicit in the deaths of approximately one-third of the population of East Timor. East Timor refused to surrender, however, drawing out the war for years. All the while, the U.S. media refused to run stories on the situation. Nevins chronicles these issues, as well as the war itself, a battle that was waged for over two decades before Suharto himself was ousted from office and the president who followed withdrew from East Timor. National Catholic Reporter reviewer Tom Gallagher observed: "East Timor's story exposes the false dichotomy of a foreign policy debate between ‘realists’ who support any country that can advance what they conceive of as America's interests and ‘idealists’ … who would deliver democracy to the world via B-52."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Annals of the Association of American Geographers, March, 2003, review of Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the "Illegal Alien" and the Making of the U.S.-Mexico Boundary, p. 237.
California History, March 22, 2002, "Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mexican Immigration in an Era of Free Trade & Operation Gatekeeper," p. 158.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, June, 2002, K. Staudt, review of Operation Gatekeeper, p. 1883.
Foreign Affairs, March, 2003, review of Operation Gatekeeper, p. 158; January 1, 2006, Lucian W. Pye, review of A Not-So-Distant Horror: Mass Violence in East Timor, p. 164.
International Migration Review, winter, 2002, Lawrence A. Herzog, review of Operation Gatekeeper, p. 1223.
Journal of American History, December, 2003, Neil Foley, review of Operation Gatekeeper, p. 1108.
Journal of Peace Research, September, 2006, Sarah Staveteig, review of A Not-So-Distant Horror, p. 640.
Law and Politics Book Review, November, 2006, review of A Not-So-Distant Horror, p. 897.
Library Journal, November 15, 2001, Stephen L. Hupp, review of Operation Gatekeeper, p. 85.
National Catholic Reporter, March 31, 2006, "An Instructive Look at the U.S. Role in East Timor," p. 15.
Pacific Affairs, spring, 2006, David Webster, review of A Not-So-Distant Horror, p. 160.
Pacific Historical Review, May, 2004, Raul Fernandez, review of Operation Gatekeeper, p. 326.
Political Science Quarterly, summer, 2003, Rodolfo O. de la Garza, review of Operation Gatekeeper, p. 339.
Prairie Schooner, summer, 2003, review of Operation Gatekeeper, p. 339.
Publishers Weekly, October 15, 2001, "Unclear Borders," p. 62.
Law and Politics Book Review Online,http://www.bsos.umd.edu/ (March 20, 2008), John C. Blakeman, review of Operation Gatekeeper; review of A Not-So-Distant Horror.
Vassar College Web site,http://earthscienceandgeography.vassar.edu/ (March 20, 2008), faculty profile.