Understanding Immigration Detention: Causes, Conditions, and Consequences
Posted: 9 Nov 2019
Date Written: October 2019
During the summer of 2018, the US government detained thousands of migrant parents and their separated children pursuant to its zero-tolerance policy at the United States–Mexico border. The ensuing media storm generated unprecedented public awareness about immigration detention. The recency of this public attention belies a long-standing immigration enforcement practice that has generated a growing body of research in the past couple of decades. I take stock of this research, focusing on the causes, conditions, and consequences of immigration detention in the United States. I also discuss critical tasks for future research, including (a) examining the role of local governments, the private prison industry, and decision makers responsible for release decisions in maintaining the detention system; (b) extending the field of inquiry to less-visible detainee populations and detention facility guards and staff, for a fuller understanding of detention conditions; and (c) investigating not only direct but also indirect consequences of detention.
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