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Immigration trials and international crimes: Expressing justice and performing race

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-436
Number of pages18
Issue number3
Accepted/In press2021
PublishedAug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article. Publisher Copyright: © The Author(s) 2021. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors


This article examines the performative collisions between the wrong of genocide and the invocation of this international crime as a means to secure carceral control of borders. Drawing on courtroom observations, legal transcripts and the media coverage of an immigration trial in the United States, the article explores the performative relationship between international criminal law and immigration law. It argues that this relationship helped to construct and racialize the category of the ‘criminalized migrant’ while establishing the perceived ‘civility’ of criminal law as a primary means of enacting domestic border control. While race was never made explicit in the trial, it emerged in a fractured but significant way, as the horror of the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi reinforced the wrong of violating immigration law.

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