Determining "Truth" at the Border: Taiwan's Emerging Immigration Bureaucracy, Chinese Marital Migrants, and Sovereignty Dilemmas
Sara L. Friedman - Associate Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies, Indiana University
As Taiwan transitions from an immigrant-sending to an immigrant-receiving country, it struggles to build an immigration bureaucracy in a context where its status as a sovereign nation-state is not recognized by much of the international community. Taiwan’s largest immigrant group, marital migrants from China, are perceived as posing the greatest challenges to border control due to longstanding political tensions across the Taiwan Strait and governmental and societal suspicions about Chinese spouses’ marital motives. Based on research conducted with immigration officials and marital immigrants and observations of immigration interviews at the main international airport, this paper interrogates the status of “truth” in official efforts to determine definitively immigrants’ marital intentions. It analyzes such truth demands in relation to anxieties about Taiwan’s national status and its ability to regulate its borders and define officially sanctioned paths to citizenship.