Chandra Russo is working on her PhD in Sociology at the University of California in Santa Barbara. Having spent some of her formative years in Denver as a member of CFIR (Coloradans for Immigrant Rights, AFSC’s ally project), she gives much credit to both CFIR and the AFSC for much of her current analysis of social justice and immigrant rights.
As of August 18, 2011, the Obama Administration had deported over one million immigrants, more deportations than under any other president to date (Dinan, 2011; D’Almeida, 2011). Many of those deported spend at least some time being detained in an immigrant detention center, often a for-profit prison. In the face of such inhumane treatment and with families being torn apart, many of us are left asking: why is this happening? In this paper, prepared for Coloradans For Immigrant Rights (CFIR) and the American Friends Service Committee Denver Office, I will explore this question.
More specifically, I will examine who benefits from the deportation of immigrants and incarceration of both immigrants and citizens. CFIR has asked if immigration policy and practices can be related to mass incarceration in the United States? I suggest that yes, these two phenomena are linked, and that understanding the operations of neoliberal capitalist globalization helps us see how. The U.S. government’s failure to legalize the undocumented, the mass detention and deportation of immigrants, and the incarceration of certain segments of U.S. citizenry are parts of a common system.