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César Hernández – Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking up Immigrants
March 10 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
An urgent call for the abolition of immigration prisons, full of powerful stories of people caught within them
For most of America’s history, we simply did not lock people up for migrating here. Yet over the last thirty years, the federal and state governments have increasingly tapped their powers to incarcerate people accused of violating immigration laws. As a result, roughly 400,000 people a year—from babies to the elderly—now spend some time locked up pending the result of a civil or criminal immigration proceeding.
In Migrating to Prison, leading scholar César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández takes a hard look at the immigration prison system’s origins, how it currently operates, and why. He tackles the emergence of immigration imprisonment in the mid-1980s, with enforcement resources deployed disproportionately against Latinos, and he looks at both the outsized presence of private prisons and how those on the political right continue, disingenuously, to link immigration imprisonment with national security risks and threats to the rule of law.
“Despite the common refrain that immigration law is ‘broken,’ immigration imprisonment is a sign that the United States immigration policy is working exactly as designed,” Garcia Hernandez writes. “The system hasn’t malfunctioned. It was intended to punish, stigmatize, and marginalize—all for political and financial gain. Politicians get elected, local governments receive revenue, corporations profit, and white racists find comfort against the prevailing winds of change that bring different languages, different people, and new challenges to old communities. That is exactly what is happening.”
Interspersed with powerful stories of people caught up in the immigration imprisonment industry, including children who have spent most of their lives in immigrant detention, Migrating to Prison is an urgent call for the abolition of immigration prisons and a radical reimagining of the United States: who belongs and on what criteria is that determination made?
César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández is a professor of law at the University of Denver and an immigration lawyer. He runs the blog Crimmigration.com and regularly speaks on immigration issues. He has appeared in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, the BBC, and many other media outlets. A native of McAllen, TX, a city at the heart of the American immigration debate, he now lives in Denver.