Histories take a long time to write, and much of Goodman’s extensive and exuberantly footnoted study predates the election of Donald Trump. It must have been strange to spend years researching deportation history in archives across the United States and Mexico—writing an academic book often feels like a private obsession—only to see it all burst into the open in 2015, when Trump began raving about Mexican rapists and promising to deport the millions of people living in this country without papers. What had previously been a question for historians like Goodman—and for the undocumented and their families, who are so rarely listened to—became a matter of public urgency. Are we, or were we ever, a 'nation of immigrants'?
...describes a nation that has for more than a century discriminated against Mexican immigrants ... Goodman, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, examines how immigration policies and practices have been shaped as much by those who interpret, administer, execute and enforce the laws as by those who write them ... Workplace raids, neighborhood sweeps, harassment, intimidation, the knock on the door by the immigration police, detention and the ultimate deportation of unwanted immigrants were not born with the current administration. They have been standard practice for more than a century.
In his superbly researched and briskly narrated The Deportation Machine, Adam Goodman...comprehensively recasts the way we think about expulsions from the US and their effects ... As his title announces, Goodman presents the US deportation regime as a machine. This allows him to reveal with new precision the vast dimension and oppressive power of an unseen system. In practice, however, the machine has not been nearly as well oiled and effective as the image suggests ... Goodman fails to grapple with the difficult question of who does merit deportation.