In this article, I examine two sites of the contemporary illegality industry in the United States: the ICE Field Office and the Immigration Court. Drawing on ongoing ethnographic engagement, including accompaniment and observations in a regional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Field Office and an Executive Office of Immigration Reform (EOIR) Court, I trace how human interactions and social relations in each of these bureaucratic sites structure and reinforce conditions of precarity, insecurity, and marginality among undocumented and asylum seeking people in the United States. In both sites, the enforcement power of the state is visible through the configurations of bureaucratic processes and the structures of interactions between migrants and federal government officials. Examining these two sites from the vantage point of engaged ethnography, I illustrate how routine, bureaucratic encounters (re)produce illegality and exclusion by enacting violence against migrants through the powers of surveillance and administrative monitoring, and the threat of deportation and family separation. I also reflect on the political potential that emerges through activist anthropology and accompaniment with migrants in sites of state violence.

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