Non immigrant, Immigrant and Citizen List

Vol. X Indian Sub-Continent

Pragya Trivedi

The systems of immigration in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom are designed to allow certain people entry and keep others out. The following list gives a sense of some common themes in the immigration processes of these three countries. Accompanying the list are examples which mark both the failure and success of the systems.

In this project, I have been struggling with the representation of the systems of immigration and assimilation. I have structured this project around Derrida's question "If Being is sent, then there must be a system that sorts, routes and delivers it. What if this system necessarily contained a kink, so that despite the absolute authority of its usual sequences, somewhere it contained the subversion and reversal of its own progression? What would happen to the thought of "es gibt" as sending? To the destiny of Being?" (Derrida, Post Card).

Classification of ineligibilities

H-1 applies to those persons who insist on staying permanently with a temporary non-immigrant visa.

Malkanjit Natt: British citizen who secretly recorded his encounter with the British police.

Policeman: You know what happens in your country...They take you out and shoot you or something...that's what we should do.
Natt: ... they don't do that there.
Policeman: Why don't you go back home?... Back to India or Pakistan or wherever you came from.
Natt: You don't have the right to tell me to go home.
(Pause)
Natt: Why are you beating me?
Policeman: Because I like it.
(India Today, August 1994).
H-2 applies to those persons who do not have any extraordinary ability in the arts and sciences, education, business, athletics, or who do not have extraordinary achievements in the motion picture and television fields. They stand out simply on the difference of their race, accent or dress.
"Enoch Powell, the prominent British parliamentarian, advocated a two pronged policy: a complete stop to any further immigration of nonwhites, and government-assisted repatriation of those in Britain. The first of these has been officially accepted by both major parties, the second hasn't yet. But for Powell and others who think like him the situation is now almost irretrievable, the alien presence too large and too entrenched, and too many of them British-born" (Asad, Pg. 240).
L-1 applies to those persons who have: O-2 applies to artists or entertainers or members of an entertainment group that are not internationally recognized.

In a system of immigration, the sending is the body. What is the "es gibt" in a system of immigration? What was it that allowed the sending off? Taking Derrida's lead, it becomes possible to have a resurfacing of that which is held back, and that which despite its disciplining could not be wholly regulated. If the system allows for the possibility of its breakdown, then what happens to this possibility after the breakdown? The breakdowns force the system to reconfigure so that the system begins to account for the breakdowns. However, its failure lies in its inability to account for the unaccountable.

O-3 applies to artists or entertainers who perform under a program that is not culturally unique.

"Me say me gone go make a movie man over,
India Plane a where me catch a Indian air-liner,
Place a where me land that a Amritsar,
Who meet me no the Prime minister,
Who a rush me baggage no a fe her father,
Who kiss me andhi daughter,
Me there in the country like a big movie star,
Jump on a taxi then a call a rikshar,
Pass Bombay and a Kalistania,
The people meet me put them hands together,
Woman in a sari man in pajamma,
When them meet me them say,
"O kith thar mnaine butchair teek hair" And then the man who meet a no the producer,
Make one film with the one Mitabh,
Make another one with the one Rekha,
Who sing the song Latham-mangeska... "
(Apache Indians).

Q-1 applies to participants in an international cultural exchange program not for the purpose of providing practical training, employment, and the sharing of the history, culture and traditions of the alien's home country.

In this project, I have been attempting to represent the circuits of communication within a western based Indian immigrant community. The networking that occurs in this community provides the means for redirection, from immigration-> assimilation, to immigration->... <-assimilation. The circuits both compete with and reproduce an assimilated western subject. In a confrontation between the circuits and the system it becomes hard to distinguish between the assimilated and the different subject. It is this confusion that marks the breakdown of the system. The final product of difference and assimilation remains unknown, unidentified and thus unaccountable.

R-1 applies to those persons who have "been a member of, or in any way connected or associated with the Communist Party, or ever knowingly aided or supported the Communist Party directly, or indirectly through another organization, group or person, or ever advocated, taught, believed in, or knowingly supported or furthered the interests of communism" (Naturalization Services). The presence of Ragga-Muffin in this project and in the Indian immigrant community as well as other immigrant communities is constant. It is not necessarily visible or even heard but it is constant. It is constant because it signals to that which is already familiar and that which has no space in the present. It is both a claiming of that space and then marking it as a space of the past. It is a hailing to that familiarity.

"Hardial Bains, an Indian Canadian who is a national leader of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), has been denied entry to the United States... Bains said he was to fly to New York Nov. 21 to address a human rights conference at Columbia University. He was accused by J.D. Charron, the U.S. immigration official who interviewed him, of attempting to smuggle "an illegal immigrant" into the U.S. in 1970. .. . Because of my political views, the Canadian authorities denied me citizenship for 24 years, he said. "I got my citizenship only in 1988, when I started an agitation in Canada and internationally (India Abroad).
R-2 applies to those persons who at any time, anywhere, "ever ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person because of race, religion, national origin, or political opinion".

"Canadians are compassionate and humane, but we don't want to be taken for a ride," Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Employment and Immigration, said at a press conference in June when he unveiled the legislation. Valcourt said that his department can no longer cope with a system that is now accepting 250,000 landed immigrants (equivalent to permanent resident status under U.S. immigration law) per year, compared to 88,000 in 1984. ...Canadian Immigration Act dates back to 1976. It was never designed to handle the numbers of people now trying to enter Canada. The system is now showing signs of strain. It is important that we now act to bring the system in line with the realities of the 1990's." (Michael Phulwani, News India)

In this project, I have failed to include the Jamaican presence and along with it many other presences that I am ignorant of. The project is unfinished. I have tried to represent some of the breakdowns in a system of immigration that does not want to allow for the possibility of difference.


Pragya Trivedi is a doctoral student in the History of Consciousness program at the University of California at Santa Cruz.