This week and next will be busy for me with talks in Denver, Columbus, and Chicago. All three talks will focus on immigration imprisonment, though each will take a different perspective. Details about these events are below. It would be great to see crImmigration.com readers in any of these cities.
I’ll begin at noon tomorrow, March 25, with a public lecture at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Here I’ll be discussing the important role that race has and continues to play in the creation and enforcement of immigration law in the United States. It’s hard to deny the explicit instances of race-based policymaking in our nation’s past. The nineteenth century’s Chinese Exclusion Act and the national origins quotas that favored northern and western European migrants over everyone else are the best examples. We often forget, though, that a pair of Supreme Court decisions from the mid-1970s continues to condone race-based immigration policing (see my article about those cases here). More recently, enforcement policies have raised the stakes of violating immigration law by making confinement commonplace. ICE holds more than 400,000 people annually pending removal decisions. Tens of thousands more are incarcerated pending prosecutions for federal immigration crimes and after conviction. Almost all are people of color. I’ll address about this past, this present reality, and what it means for the future of the United States. This talk is part of the Analyzing the Law Through a Racial Justice Lens series organized by a coalition of student groups—the law school’s ACLU, BLSA, PILG, and LLSA chapters—with the support of the Rocky Mountain Collective on Race, Place, and Law, and the Office of the Associate Dean of Institutional Diversity and Inclusiveness. [An event flyer is available here.]
Next week I’ll travel to Columbus, Ohio to join Michelle Alexander and Silky Shah for an event at Ohio State University where, as the event’s title suggests, we’ll focus on “The Continuities Between Immigration Detention and Mass Incarceration.” In her highly influential book The New Jim Crow, Alexander has injected the fact of and problems with mass incarceration (what Loïc Wacquant more aptly refers to as “hyperincarceration”) into popular discourse. Absent from almost all of that discussion, including Alexander’s book, is this phenomenon’s relation to the vast and expanding immigration prison population. The activist organization Detention Watch Network, where Shah serves as c0-director, has been doing important work linking these two policy choices, and I’ve been writing about that connection for some time. In Immigration Detention As Punishment (UCLA Law Review 2014), for example, I detailed the commonalties between the federal legislation that marks the early period of the war on drugs and the legislative architecture that authorizes civil immigration detention. This event, sponsored by a number of OSU groups, is free and open to the public. It will take place at OSU Law’s Saxbe Auditorium at noon with a reception to follow. [An event flyer is available here and a Facebook page here.]
After a day back in Denver, I’ll head to Chicago to visit with the faculty at The John Marshall Law School where I’ll speak about how immigration imprisonment has become so routinized that it is on autopilot. It is, as I illustrate in my forthcoming article Naturalizing Immigration Imprisonment, a policy creature unto itself—one that rises from civil and criminal powers but that nonetheless results in people being locked behind barbed wire and their every movement watched by guards. I’ll explain that I think it’s critical that policymakers, advocates, and activists think of confinement that results from migration related activity as a single phenomenon no matter the source of law that formally authorizes this deprivation of liberty. Doing that allows us to firmly envision the half million or so people who are locked up every year for this activity. More importantly, it facilitates moving beyond discussions tied to formal differentiations between civil and criminal law, and toward grappling with imprisonment’s role in enforcing any activity inextricably tied to moving from one place to another.
This event, unfortunately, is not open to the public. Attendance at this event is free, but registration is required. Visit this page to register.
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