Immigration Detention: No Turning Back?

12 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2015

See all articles by Jennifer M. Chacón

Jennifer M. Chacón

University of California, Irvine School of Law; University of Oxford - Border Criminologies

Date Written: 2014


Over the past two decades, the US government has expanded immigration detention to unprecedented levels. This essay explores the social and doctrinal origins of the immigration detention boom and provides a critique of the legal doctrines that continue to insulate immigration detention from the legal scrutiny generally applied to comparable deprivations of liberty in the context of criminal punishment. The article also evaluates recent immigration detention reform efforts and their limitations, assessing the potential impact of current immigration reform proposals on immigration detention. Notwithstanding the apparent trend in favor of immigration reform, viable reform proposals continue to assume the need for punitive detention for migrants as part of a criminalized immigration enforcement model. In this context, truly comprehensive reform of immigration detention practices in the United States remains a distant goal.

Suggested Citation

Chacón, Jennifer M., Immigration Detention: No Turning Back? (2014). South Atlantic Quarterly, Vol.113, No.3, 2014; UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2015-12; Criminal Justice, Borders and Citizenship Research Paper No. 2553535. Available at SSRN:

Jennifer M. Chacón (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States
530-754-5700 (Phone)

University of Oxford - Border Criminologies ( email )

Manor Road Building
Manor Rd
Oxford, OX1 3UQ
United Kingdom

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