From the fear of asylum-seekers in Western Europe to the panic around “illegals” in the United States, there is a global backlash against immigrants. These sentiments are increasingly accompanied by a crackdown in enforcement. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed 352,882 people in detention facilities during fiscal year 2016, a sharp increase from the 193,951 detained in 2015.
U.S. President Donald Trump promises to lock up exponentially more, having made the fight against “illegal immigration” a central plank of his campaign platform. But who are the people incarcerated in these immigration prisons? What are they running from? And do they really need to be locked up for the sake of national security?
While the undocumented population of the U.S. is diverse, those held in immigration detention are often people seeking asylum, or safe haven, from violence. Thousands of the detainees being held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are mothers and their young children, most of whom are fleeing harsh conditions in Central America.
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Arnold, Lynnette and Hallett, Miranda Cady, "Locking Up Families Is Inhumane—and Unconstitutional" (2017). Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work Faculty Publications. 83.