Advocates and academics routinely discuss mass incarceration. It’s hard not to. The United States counts roughly 2.2 million people in prisons or jails. That’s about 1 out of every 110 adults. Of course, people of color experience incarceration much more frequently than white men or women. As percentages of the country’s population, the incarceration rates for black men and women in particular vastly overshadow Latina/o men and women. Both are well above their white counterparts.
As sobering as these reports are, they exclude the nation’s large and expanding civil immigration detention population. As crImmigration.com readers know well, approximately 33,000 migrants are detained every night while federal government officials decide whether they will be allowed to remain in the United States. Over the course of a given year, those 33,000 people will add up to more than 400,000 detained migrants. At its peak in fiscal year 2012, almost 478,000 migrants were detained by or on behalf of ICE.
One of my greatest frustrations stems from the consistent failure of advocates and academics to recognize that civil immigration detention occupies a prominent role in the United States’ imprisonment fetish. More than a year ago, I asked on this blog, “Should we consider immigration detention as a wholly distinct topic from incarceration or is immigration detention a part of incarceration policies?”
Alongside Michelle Alexander, author of the extremely influential The New Jim Crow, and Silky Shah, co-director of the Detention Watch Network, I was fortunate to recently participate in an exciting discussion aimed at this very question. Alexander brought to the conversation her penetrating analysis of mass incarceration, while Shah shared her sustained commitment to liberatory activist projects. I tapped my study of confinement as a means of enforcing immigration law.
I invite you to watch the full discussion below. This event, I hope, isn’t the last we hear about the relationship between these two deeply entrenched and thoroughly problematic exercises of the government’s coercive powers.
Find this information useful? Then let others know about crImmigration.com, as well as César’s Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages. And to make sure you don’t miss an update, subscribe to the blog by entering your email address in the subscription box that appears on every page.