Forum 2016 - Infrastructure Space - Detroit (Ruby Press)

91 90 deral jails, where detainees were held prior to deportation. According to Tom Barry, these centers represent a new mode of incarceration: “the speculative public-private prison, publicly owned by local governments, privately opera- ted by corporations, publicly financed by tax-exempt bonds, and located in depressed communities.” 6 Immigrant advocates reserve their harshest complaints against these privatized, for-profit jails under contract with ICE. They are often under-regulated and non-accountable, whith detainees se- questered in unsafe conditions without representation or adequate medical care, and transferred unnecessarily within the detention system, making it more difficult for them to maintain con- tact with legal counsel and families. Excessive use of solitary confinement in detention centers is an especially contested practice currently undergo- ing review. And in what is the greatest irony, migrants held in detention centers often work in kitchens and laundry rooms, for which they usually get paid $1 per day. Such coercive use of de- tained migrant labor makes the federal government—which prohibits hiring illegal workers—the largest single employer of undocumented migrants in the country. Opposition to DHS practices emanate from across the political spectrum, and, cumulatively, they have begun to effect changes. Most dramatic was the termination of the Secure Communities (SC) program, a benchmark policy in both the Bush and Obama administrations. Marketed as a program to identify and deport serious criminals among the undo- cumented population, SC suffered in two ways: from “bait and switch” tactics (i.e., the program was justified as described, but implemented dif- ferently) and “mission drift” (a cons- cious or unconscious deviation from original program intentions). Either way, roughly three-quarters of those deported under SC had no criminal record, only convictions related to Fig. 9: Holtville Cemetery, CA, containing many unmarked graves of migrants who died attempting to cross into the United States. Fig. 10: Location of private detention centers in the United States, 2011. minor offenses. In 2015, DHS con- ceded that SC had failed to meet its stated goal of making communities more secure, and terminated the program. Third Nation I have revisited many places along the border many times since I began exploring in 2002. Today, the raucous efforts toward fortification have slo- wed down, replaced on both sides by busy efforts to open new ports of entry in the wall, or expand the capacity of existing ports. Most memorably, I returned to El Paso Ciudad Juárez, where the river boundary meets the land boundary at monument number 1. Accustomed by now to the walls’ shadows, I was taken aback to discover that there was no border fence at this critically important juncture in the boundary line. Instead, the border is marked only by a shallow earthen berm with a modest sign atop it, announcing the international border. The ambience during my visit that day was relaxed. I chatted amiably with people on the other side, exchanging courtesies in Spanish and English. Things were as they should be. Of course, I knew from past experience that someone, somewhere was observing our beha- vior, but such surveillance may be the price of security without walls. In the three decades since the 1986 Immigration Reform and Cont- rol Act was passed, the United States has spent over $187 billion on im- migration control and border security. The unlamented 2013 Senate propo- sal for immigration reform included provisions for $40 billion more to be spent on another 700 miles of walls, and a doubling of USBP agents to 40,000. (The trade publication Home- land Security Today described the bill as a “treasure trove” for contractors in the border security business.) We may forever lack a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis for the SBI pro- gram, but sufficient evidence exists already to suggest that many such emphases have little or no justification based in evidence. What do the citizens of the border- land third nation want? In a nutshell, they want to get their lives back; to manage their own destinies without interference from outsiders; and to act urgently to help themselves. In my many conversations, they are clear about their preferences: End the occupation . Border com- munities deeply resent the pervasive presence of agents of the “police state,” especially in the US interior. Justifying the presence of immigra- tion-enforcement agencies, judging their performance, and curtailing abusive practices are integral to any program evaluation calculus. Take down the wall. The DHS long ago backed away from the claim that the fortifications have sealed the bor- der, instead asserting that they were intended solely to slow down migrants who would then be apprehended by conventional USBP agents. Where other means of adequate surveillan-

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