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The information practices and politics of migrant-aid work in the US-Mexico borderlands

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Abstract

Numerous organizations work to provide humanitarian aid to undocumented migrants along the US-Mexico border—from running shelters in Mexico to placing water on migratory trails. Resistance to information-sharing between organizations (and to the public), especially through technologically mediated means, is common. However, some organizers and volunteers work across organizational boundaries and share information informally. Information secrecy is often justified by concerns that law enforcement authorities or anti-immigration activists might gain access to information, allowing them to harm, detain or remove migrants, or interfere with humanitarian work. The choices made about the collection and (non)disclosure of information are manifestations of what we call “liminal” information practices: such behaviors are unique to humanitarian volunteers working in the gray, ethical area between law enforcement and humanitarian values and action, and they are guided by the information politics at play within this context.

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Newell, B. C., Vannini, S., & Gomez, R. (2020). The information practices and politics of migrant-aid work in the US-Mexico borderlands. Information Society, 36(4), 199–213. https://doi.org/10.1080/01972243.2020.1761918

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