“We Deport Them but They Keep Coming Back”: The Normalcy of Deportation in the Daily Life of “Undocumented” Zimbabwean Migrant Workers in Botswana (Treasa M. Galvin, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Volume 41, Number 4, 21 March 2015, pp. 617-634(18))
Based on ethnographic fieldwork among ‘undocumented’ Zimbabwean migrants in Botswana, this paper examines the complex strategies ‘undocumented’ migrants employ to deal with the threat and occurrence of deportation. In particular, the paper considers the manner in which strategies used to cope with forced repatriation are discernible at different levels, namely in the way official immigration categories and associated terminologies are contested through definitions of self; in the experience of daily life as a constant need to respond to the threat of deportation; and in the process of return to Botswana. Though the event itself is stressful and disruptive, it is not conceptualised as a barrier to migration as a livelihood strategy. The paper shows how ‘undocumented’ Zimbabwean migrant workers do not experience deportation as a single event but as a constant threat to their transnational livelihoods and an unwelcome interruption to daily life. It reveals that strategies to cope with deportability and deportation can become a normal part of daily life for ‘undocumented’ migrant workers as they seek to safeguard livelihoods that depend on cross-border mobility.