The Minutemen and Neoliberal State Activity: Towards an Understanding of Private Border Patrols


  • Devin T. Molina American University


neoliberalism, border security, immigration, minutemen, the state


This paper explores the emergence of the minutemen and other private border patrol organizations as both a response to and outgrowth of neoliberalism. The minutemen oppose many of the effects of neoliberal economic policies such as permeable borders, but support many of its ideological underpinnings and outcomes such as ideologies of personal responsibility and opposition to “Big Government.” While the minutemen and the state engage in collaborative efforts to interdict and apprehend undocumented immigrants at the border, the minutemen do not effectively broaden the state’s ability to successfully stem illicit flows across its borders. Instead, minuteman activities provide valuable ideological and discursive support to the state that further legitimates failed border security efforts. Thus, the minutemen often work in ways that diminish their ability to achieve their organization’s political aims. On the other hand, because the minutemen rely exclusively on Border Patrol agents to apprehend and deport undocumented immigrants, the state empowers minuteman action. Understanding how the minutemen operate and their relationship to the state can thus provide insight into the relationships between civil society and the state under neoliberalism. Doing so can highlight the ways that neoliberalism remains a dominant yet incomplete process rife with contradictory pressures.

Author Biography

Devin T. Molina, American University

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Anthropology






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