The Perverse Logic of Immigration Detention: Unraveling the Rationality of Imprisoning Immigrants Based on Markers of Race and Class Otherness

Hernández, César Cuauhtémoc García

In an effort to explain the massive growth of immigration imprisonment, this Essay explores the use of race and class as tools for policing immigration law. The Essay does this by contemplating the effect of an immigration law scheme that, at its most fundamental, requires sorting desirable immigrants from undesirable immigrants, and that, in recent years, has accomplished this sorting through increased reliance on criminal records. Placing these two features of contemporary immigration law within the context of two decades-old forms of indisputably racialized policing—mass incarceration of black and brown people for criminal law violations and the Supreme Court's sanctioning of racial profiling in immigration law policing—the Essay concludes that it was inevitable for penal imprisonment trends to taint immigration law enforcement with raced and classed mass incarceration.


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Columbia Journal of Race and Law

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October 20, 2012