A few months back the Columbia Journal of Race and Law published my short essay on the rational if unsavory growth of immigration imprisonment. César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, The Perverse Logic of Immigration Detention: Unraveling the Rationality of Imprisoning Immigrants Based on Markers of Race and Class Otherness, 1 Columbia Journal of Race and Law 353 (2012). So long as our immigration law enforcement policy prioritizes removal of people who have been convicted of a crime and our criminal law regime disproportionately impacts people of color, then, I argue, we will continue to rely on the tools of criminal policing to police immigration law. And, of course, the most poignant of those policing mechanisms is the barbed wire perimeter of imprisonment.
Here’s the abstract:
Mass incarceration has long featured the imprisonment of vast numbers of people of color. Today’s immigration incarceration regime emblematizes these characteristics of mass incarceration. In recent years, almost 400,000 individuals, mostly people of color, have cycled through immigration prisons annually. The modern state of immigration imprisonment, this Essay argues, should not come as a surprise. It is the perversely rational extension of the nation’s decades-old criminal policing emphasis that resulted in penal mass incarceration paired with a more recent emphasis on sorting desirable and non-desirable immigrants through the lens of criminality.
The ImmigrationProf Blog named this piece its “Immigration Article of the Day” in early September.