Immigrant Defense Funds for Utopians
34 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2019
Date Written: January 30, 2019
Since Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, migrants and their advocates have forcefully lobbied state and local governments to develop immigrant defense funds. Financed through public contributions or a combination of public and private funds, immigrant defense funds have emerged as an important means of signaling a local community’s distaste for the Trump administration’s policies toward migrants. They also represent a vital lifeline for migrants who would likely otherwise face the possibility of removal from the United States without the assistance of counsel. This Essay takes no issue with defense funds. Instead, it critiques the innocence narrative that has captured much of the political rhetoric that supporters utilize. Building from Hannah Arendt’s analysis of humanity, citizenry, and legality, this Essay rejects facile depictions of some people as good and others as bad. Instead, it argues in favor of shifting attention from the worth of particular individuals to systemic biases in criminal law and immigration law that mark some people as morally upstanding and others as threats.
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