Asylum, Credible Fear Tests, and Colonial Violence

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Abstract
A credible fear test is an in-depth interview process given to undocumented people of any age arriving at a U.S. port of entry to determine qualification for asylum-seeking. Credible fear tests as a typical immigration procedure demonstrate not only what structural epistemic violence looks like but also how this violence lives in and through the design of asylum policy. Key terms of credible fear tests such as “significant possibility,” “evidence,” “consistency,” and “credibility” can never be neutral in the context of colonial administrative violence. We argue that these terms function as mechanisms of exclusion and demonstrate that the capacity to be violent (i.e. to be an instrument of violence) is built into these tests, ready to be deployed when an administration wants to stop certain people from certain places from entering without regard to their own ongoing occupation of Indigenous lands. Not only are such practices instruments of violence, but the concept of ‘violence’ continues to be organized, defined, and conceived within settler colonial epistemologies so as to exclude these administrative forms of violence deployed against Indigenous peoples and people of color from recognition and nameability. We argue that this is an intentional strategy of colonial power preservation that is functionalized through social processes that remain structurally stable and self-regenerating across historical and political changes.
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Archival date: 2020-02-08
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2019-10-16

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