SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 1: Gómez Cervantes, A., Menjívar, C., & Staples, W. G. (2017). “Humane” immigration enforcement and Latina immigrants in the detention complex. Feminist Criminology, 12, 269–292.

Abstract: We explore the criminalization of Latina immigrants through the interwoven network of social control created by law, the justice system, and private corporations—the immigration industrial complex. Considerable scholarly research has focused on understanding the overtly coercive practices of deportation and the consequences for families and communities; less attention has been devoted to the social control mechanisms of detention facilities and “Alternative to Detention Programs” (ATD programs) operating in the United States. We know relatively little about the consequences for immigrant populations, especially of the purported “humane” practices in the enforcement apparatus. Based on existing documents produced by governmental offices, including Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Border Patrol, Government Accountability Office, nonprofit organizations, advocacy groups, and private correctional facilities, we conducted semistructured interviews with 11 immigration lawyers who have access to women who are and/or have been detained, are in supervised ATD programs, are/were in deportation proceedings, or attempt(ed) to claim asylum. An examination of immigration confinement, especially the laws and policy decisions behind the exponential increase in these detentions, reveals important gender dynamics in these practices. The subtle and benevolence-signaling discourse evoking “family,” “motherhood,” and the care of children masks the harsh “business as usual” tactics that treat women and their children in ways indistinguishable from those used in the criminal justice system. We contend that this feminized and infantilized language functions to conceal widespread civil and human rights violations, physical and sexual violence, and mistreatment reproduced by the immigration detention system today.

Journal Article 2: Ortega, D. M., Graybill, L., & Lasch, C. N. (2015). Enacting and sustaining trauma and violence through policy enforcement. Affilia, 30, 281–285.

Abstract: In the fall of 2015, Professor Lisa Graybill and two law students from Sturm College of Law responded to a call from the American Immigrant Lawyers Association (AILA) requesting pro bono legal services to women and their children who were being held at a detention center in Artesia, New Mexico. When Professor Graybill and the students arrived at the detention center, they were surprised and dismayed by what they found: poor conditions, sick children, policies that subverted access to the legal system, and women and children who experienced multiple and severe acts of sexual and physical violence without hope of protection in their home countries. Incensed by the injustices she witnessed, she approached me as a social work faculty member in order to propose an interdisciplinary course in law and social work that would focus on immigrant family detention. The course included a spring break learning experience in which students would provide pro bono legal and social support services to women and children held in immigration detention facilities in Texas. This project was supported through the use of funds from the University of Denver Latino Center for Community Engagement and Scholarship, Sturm College of Law, and the Graduate School of Social Work. This editorial is written based on our experiences at the immigration family jail located in Dilley, TX.