“An FTZ is established in conjunction with international points of entry. Each port of entry can become a zone project; each zone project can produce numerous zones, and each zone can have numerous subzones. The boundaries of an FTZ as they are marked on the maps of the Federal Zoning Board can be a radius of sixty miles or ninety minutes transit from the edges of an inter- national port of entry, and are established by the Department of Commerce. The area inside this boundary is the service area of a grantor agency. It is the area within which a zone can be activated, like a perimeter of off-shorability. In the case of FTZ #22, the grantor is the Illinois International Port District (con- taining the Port of Chicago). Within this service area, business interests work through the grantor to activate or make use of zone for specific footprints. Once activated, a zone is considered outside of the United States for the purposes of trade, tariffs, processing of goods (which includes assembly, disassembly, de- struction, testing, mixing and manufacturing), and other regulations.
When a zone becomes activated it must be completely secured―enclosed by a border, with access points under the jurisdiction of Customs and Border Protection, often managed via proxy (private) agencies. FTZ #22 currently has at least eleven activated zones, including several logistics and warehousing centers, such as the 2,500-acre CenterPoint Intermodal Center in Elwood and the 3,600-acre CenterPoint Intermodal and Logistics Center near Joliet, which together form the largest inland port in the country. FTZ #22 also in- tegrates dozens of sub-zones: smaller, discontiguous, single-user, restricted- access areas that are frequently used as manufacturing sites. Subzones may even be located outside of the boundaries of the grantor territory, but are connected to ports of entry and other “special economic zones” via an ex- panding network of publicly-funded rail lines, roads and inland waterways.
The US currently has over 270 FTZ projects, each with a service area ra- dius of between sixty and120 miles from center, and around 1,000 sub-zones. Manufacturing and waste generating processes, assembling, repackaging, storage, exhibition, shipping, and other processes within the zone legally oc- cur outside of the United States. Commodities that move within the “zone universe”―between zones/subzones, ports of entry and military bases― never enter U.S. juridical territory. This means they can be assembled or stored, repackaged or tested, without incurring tariffs. It means manufactur- ing and assemblage can take place without value-added taxes on domestic materials, parts, labor, overhead, or profit. It also means that materials and commodities appear as continuously moving, never in place.”
“Nested within FTZ #22 are dozens of other special economic zones. The most pervasive of these are the “enterprise zones,” (EZs) which are desig- nated by local (usually state or county) jurisdictions. The location of EZs is not related to ports of entry, but instead identified in terms of “underdevelop- ment” indicators and rhetorically justified in terms of job creation and local development. In these areas, which are not physically enclosed, commercial interests activate zoning to off-shore from the standpoint of labor, land use, and abatement regulations, in relation to local and state taxes, among many other factors. While “job creation” is one of the justifications for EZs, they put into motion incentivizing mechanisms as well as risk management sys- tems that make flexible what exactly counts as a job―the conditions under which people can be hired, retained, trained, discarded, and worked. EZs emerged around the rhetoric of “development,” while creating corporate tax havens that deprive local communities of revenue and subsidize buildings, roadways, water treatment plants and other major infrastructure to encour- age territorial centralization of specific economies.
FTZs and EZs offer “competitive advantages,” an effect of nimble, over- lapping, and contradictory jurisdictional frameworks. FTZ implies that goods enter US territories but remain outside of US trade markets, while EZ implies that bodies that are physically in the US in terms of policing and labor are moved outside of the US in terms of labor regulations and human rights. FTZ has to do with the connection to ports of entry, to the mass move- ment of goods, and the assembly, storage, or destruction of commodities and materials; EZ is tied to managing and speculating upon shifting labor mar- kets, warehousing, and supply chain management of labor as commodity. FTZ has to do with tariff differentials and cost differentials for parts, as well as flexible inventory and storage of commodities (the time value of money, which pertains to price differentials between spot and futures markets, for instance, and “just-in-time” production). EZ has to do with tax differentials and labor cost differentials at smaller scales (competition between states or even counties) and to the flexibilization of work.”
“Gradually, and increasingly after containeriza- tion becomes standard in the 1960s, human associations become separated from commodity movement, even as manufacturing processes become nor- malized as an FTZ activity: FTZ becomes in a sense a regime that separates labor from trade, workers from commodities, producing a de-laboring of the global goods movement.”
“If extra-territoriality and deportability are instruments of statecraft, they are also global regimes. The zone offers a perspective on the articulation of neoliberal logic and the state form: a dynamic process whereby territories and populations are increasingly zoned for optimal insertion into capital circuits, enforcing regimes of stratified spatiality. Our little group had long understood that a politics based on “rights” and “papers” would not allow us to develop a shared analysis of neoliberalism, nor to call the state into question as the necessary and inevitable frame of reference. Riding the zone became a way to explore and also to disrupt specific space-making practices and capitalist relations. We began to refer to an “undocumented perspec- tive” as not merely the perspective, knowledge, or experience of people who are themselves rendered illegal by the state. “Undocumented” came to re- fer not to an identity, but to a set of practices, to the production of social relations that could be resistant to the capitalist relations that characterize the zone.
After the ride we continued to organize, and our actions became increas- ingly public. We also re-crafted our analysis of poli-migra. It seemed to us the violence was of a different nature―and its effects were different―than we had though. Our work still focused on deportation enforcement, but we began to discuss the ways in which criminalizing migration worked to forc- ibly integrate so many aspects of life into the logic of the dominant economic order. In writing about the scale and scope of migrant incarceration, and its connection to increasingly widespread disenfranchisement in the name of the current financial crisis, we reconsidered what we felt was at stake in migrant resistance.
. . . (poli-migra) is also an all-out attack on the communal relations and econo- mies that immigrants are crucial in sustaining: neighborhood arrangements that collectivize domestic and reproductive work, economies of barter and exchange, social and institutional practices of self-governance. In other words, all the social relations that correspond to a definition of communities as living systems. These arrangements are a nuisance from the perspective of capital; they are an impedi- ment to efficiency and profit maximization, [. . .] an obstacle to the total mar- ketization of life . . . (Moratorium on Deportations, from Why an Immigrants Freedom Ride)”