Praise for Migrating to Prison:“Hernández lays out in a lucid, linear fashion the evolution of immigration law and its enforcement in the United States.”—The Intercept
“César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández’s Migrating to Prison uncovers the history of U.S. immigrant detention‚ from the 1980s to the present.”—Bustle
“[García Hernández] argues compellingly that immigrant advocates shouldn’t content themselves with debates about how many thousands of immigrants to lock up, or other minor tweaks.”—Gus Bova, Texas Observer
“An immigration lawyer takes the U.S. immigration imprisonment system to task in this passionate, credible treatise.”—Shelf Awareness
“A chilling, timely overview of the American tendency to first exploit and then criminalize migrants. . . . García Hernández balances current controversies and historical perspective to heart-rending effect [and] counters pessimism with in-depth research and measured, passionate argument.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Exuding humanity, insight, and forbearance, Garcia Hernández offers a concise and powerful look at a complex and perplexing challenge.”—Booklist“A thought-provoking perspective on immigration and U.S. immigration policy.” —Library Journal (starred review)“An accessible history and fierce critique of the U.S. immigration system. . . . His thoughtful mixture of reportage and legal scholarship makes for an important entry in the immigration debate.”—Publishers Weekly
“Timely, informative, expertly written, organized and presented, Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants is unreservedly recommended.”—The Midwest Book Review
“Migrating to Prison makes the persuasive case that the astronomical boom in imprisonment of immigrants stems from exactly the same root causes, both financial and political, as the dramatic escalation in mass incarceration.”—The Baffler"Required reading for anyone fighting for a new immigration policy vision that welcomes immigrants. We need to understand the sadistic, multibillion-dollar industry of immigrant detention so that we can rip it down and make sure it never comes back."—Cristina Jiménez, co-founder and executive director of United We Dream "Essential for anyone trying to understand how the United States came to have the world’s largest detention infrastructure. García Hernández does a masterful job of laying out the turning points of immigration imprisonment from Ellis Island to family separation and the case for abolishing the practice altogether."—Silky Shah, executive director of Detention Watch Network "García Hernández provides an insightful examination of the eerie parallels between immigration imprisonment and mass incarceration. He makes a compelling argument that criminalizing immigration enforcement is not only a seriously flawed practical strategy, but an affront to human rights as well."—Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project and author of Race to Incarcerate "A ‘must-read’ for any American interested in the tragic humanitarian impacts of the mass detention of immigrants as a central tool in contemporary immigration enforcement. García Hernández writes cogently, intelligently, and passionately about the increasingly expansive use of detention to regulate immigration. The book could not be more timely."—Kevin R. Johnson, dean, University of California, Davis, School of Law "At a time when child migrant camps and family separations have drawn the attention of Americans, Migrating to Prison provides a vital road map to understand how the immigrant detention industry has evolved over the years. A critical and accessible primer for anyone interested in understanding the system—and abolishing it."—Deepa Iyer, author of We Too Sing America "Migrating to Prison rips the veils off of the immigration detention system. García Hernández brings a sharp legal eye to showing how our immigration system has become so twisted that we take for granted the outrageous. If you want a crystal clear explanation of why we need to abolish immigration detention, this is the book for you."—Aviva Chomsky, author of Undocumented
A chilling, timely overview of the American tendency to first exploit and then criminalize migrants.
Immigration lawyer García Hernández (Law/Univ. of Denver; Crimmigration Law, 2017) balances current controversies and historical perspective to heart-rending effect, capturing the militarized cruelty and ultimate futility at the core of anti-migrant policing, as embodied by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and what he terms today's "Immigration Prison Archipelago." Noting how political approaches have fluctuated wildly, he wonders, "how did we go from effectively abolishing immigration imprisonment during the 1950s and 1960s to today's pattern of locking up half a million people annually?" The author concludes that with migrants easily demonized, policymaking has not kept pace with the pernicious nature of bigotry: "The rules that determine who gets locked up and who doesn't are a legal labyrinth." Yet, although arbitrary cruelty was enshrined in public attitudes as far back as anti-Chinese legislation in the 19th century, the economic and cultural centrality of migration to the national interest was also recognized. As the author notes, "for most of U.S. history, second chances were built into immigration law. Most of the time, crime was irrelevant to a person's ability to make a life here." This began to change in the 1980s, as state and federal lawmakers expanded the range of deportable offenses and limited judicial discretion. Often, such anti-migrant policies were hidden within politically popular "tough on crime" bills. Detention became more aggressively mandated due to the archaic legal principle known as the "entry fiction," which made "the immigration detention center [into] an in-between space in law." All this has fed the current simmering boondoggle, where even migrants with military service or clear community ties may be swept up in raids. The profit motive pursued by private prison corporations and the fearmongering of right-wing commentators make the issue seem intractable. García Hernández counters pessimism with in-depth research and measured, passionate argument.
An effective jeremiad on a key moral controversy of the Trump era.
"Imprisonment is a chosen policy approach," says Hernández, law professor at the University of Denver, in this debut. "Chosen" is the key word: Who first chose to jail newcomers, and when did it become policy? Hernández has answers. After the Revolutionary War, when immigrants were no longer consistently Anglo, immigrants have been detained in unlivable conditions and prosecuted under unfair contexts. Hernández describes Chinese immigrants locked up on San Francisco's docks, and Cuban and Haitian arrivals held in Miami. Their detainment illuminates how the prison epidemic on the U.S.-Mexico border has been a long time coming. Hernández is careful to point out that the country originally had no detention centers. Once readers understand that the United States began with free and open borders, perhaps they can also see a future in which America (once again) does not detain newcomers. Today, imprisonment is entwined with immigration policy. We must abolish immigration detention, ICE, and prisons in general, Hernández argues, but we can't stop there. Solutions thinking is imperative to abolition thinking, he concludes. What will replace the prison? VERDICT A thought-provoking perspective on immigration and U.S. immigration policy.—Sierra Dickey, Ctr. for New Americans, Northampton, MA