Each year, the United States incarcerates more than 400,000 people in a network of over 200 detention facilities for immigration-related offenses, even more than it imprisons for drug crimes. In Lindskoog’s view, prolonged detention—rather than release into the community on parole—violates international norms of human rights and U.S. constitutional guarantees of due process. Lindskoog examines the precedents for the system of mass incarceration of immigrants in U.S. policies toward Haitian immigrants since the 1970s and in the use of Guantánamo Bay for extraterritorial detention. Both Democratic and Republican administrations have resorted to detention to enforce immigration laws and deter additional waves of undocumented immigrants. Lindskoog provides a valuable road map of the tangled law and politics of U.S. immigration policies. He fails, however, to detail more humane alternatives to cope with the burgeoning flows of immigrants.
The 15 essays in Immigration Policy in the Age of Punishment argue that contemporary immigration policies in some late-capitalist countries exemplify broader trends toward bureaucratic authoritarianism. The volume’s sociologists (following the French social theorist Michel Foucault) view detention and deportation as disciplinary measures designed to foster law-abiding behavior and productivity in the broader immigrant community. Anticipating U.S. President Donald Trump, they also detect a strong emotional and theatrical theme in punitive anti-immigrant policies and racially tinged vindictiveness among administrative judges and other law enforcement officials. Yet they do not just fault Republicans in the United States. In her contribution, Tanya Golash-Boza names former U.S. President Barack Obama “the Deporter in Chief,” since his administration expelled some three million immigrants. Essays on Australia, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom find a global trend of more restrictive attitudes toward immigrants, including asylum seekers, although not all the case studies are fully convincing. Overall, the volume is more denunciatory than prescriptive, but one essay, by Brotherton and Sarah Tosh, does laud those western European countries whose detention facilities pay more attention than most to the consequences for the families of those detained.
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