You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Immigration’ tag.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly announces the opening of the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement office on Wednesday. Susan Walsh/AP

I haven’t the time to flag every callous and legally-questionable move made by the Trump administration (no-one has) but the establishment of the cynically-titled Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office stands out as a deplorable act of race-baiting, even by Donald’s standards.

The office, which states its purpose as that to assist victims of crimes committed by immigrants, is a in fact a vehicle for Trump’s continued propaganda against immigrants.

Victims of all crimes need assistance. Given that there are fewer victims of crimes by undocumented persons than there are victims of crimes by citizens–because immigrants (documented and undocumented) commit crimes at a lower rate than citizens–VOICE doesn’t even make sense; it pours resources toward a small subset of post-crime law enforcement response.

Trump is demonising immigrants, casting them as dangerous and a threat. This is a lie. Data shows that immigrants are less likely to commit crime, especially violent crime.

The law should function in a way to sanction against all crimes, in all places, perpetrated by any persons against any persons in the same way. Law enforcement should not be advertising, annotating and publicising crimes by a specific group. To do so is the abandonment of impartiality, the abandonment of a key function of the law. To do so is tyranny.

A response from the Immigrant Justice Network landed in my inbox this morning. I’d like to share it.

After 100 hundred days of losing in the courts, legislature, and before the global community, the Trump administration has hit a new low in its attempt to validate an indefensible platform built on racial hatred, fear-mongering, and public deception. The administration has failed to secure credible sources to support its racist claims about immigrants and crime. While the administration has had to resort to inventing lies or “alternative facts” on other issues, with today’s formal launch of the VOICE initiative by DHS, the Trump administration has hit a new low in its exploitation of human loss to serve its own narrow interests.

Operating on the same racist logic that has fuelled the country’s discriminatory policing and mass incarceration of people of colour, VOICE is a shameful propaganda vehicle whose sole aim is to promote fear, social divisions, and the myth of *immigrant criminality*. It says as much about the President’s attitudes towards immigrants as it does about his views towards everyday Americans, whom he thinks he can frighten into passive complicity.

VOICE has no place in our society. As a network that fights for the civil, human, and legal rights of all immigrants, the IJN vehemently denounces this shameful exploitation of tragedy for political advantage.

— Signed Mizue Aizeki (Immigrant Defense Project), Angie Junck (Immigrant Legal Resource Center), and Paromita Shah (National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild) on behalf of the Immigrant Justice Network (IJN)

prescott

I mean really, at this point, what should we expect? I’m getting sick and tired of centrist, rightwing (and older) Americans ignoring the wonderful examples repeatedly set by youngsters about humane ways to treat one another.

Latest example? In Arizona, the students of Prescott College, a small liberal arts school focused on environmental education, recently voted by a huge majority to initiate a $30 added charge to their annual tuition fees. The $15,000 that will be raised is to pay for a scholarship for one undocumented person to attend the college.

It’s laudable. It’s community minded. It’s called the Freedom Education Fund.

A few things to note first.

  • This was a student led initiative.
  • No faculty or administrative body foisted this upon the kids.
  • This is a relatively small gesture: This fund will assist one teenager from an estimated 65,000 undocumented high-school graduates each year. (Only 10,000 of those graduates enroll in college each year.)
  • This is a massive gesture in Arizona, a state in which voters approved Prop 300, a 2006 ballot measure, that prohibits students from paying in-state tuition and receiving federal and state financial aid if they cannot prove they are in the U.S. legally. Prescott College, a private institution, is exempt from the law which polices only public colleges and universities. Here then, relatively privileged kids are acknowledging and acting upon their privilege. This is Millennials being global citizens. Meanwhile the powerful in our world are hoarding and secreting cash left, right and centre!

Really, what is wrong with rightwing media like Fox and Breitbart who cast this empowered and beautiful move by students as a “levy” and a sneaky, “mandatory” subversive maneuver? What are right-wingers so fearful of? What whinging, narrow-focus on the world do you grip when youth solidarity bothers you but bloody-minded racism you let pass? What small world does one inhabit, if youngsters’ kindness to one another is cause for contempt?

Hurrah, kudos and all the very best to the students at Prescott College. Don’t listen to the haters and don’t let them distract you from the love you bear, the values you hold and the structural tweaks you make in the cause of social justice.

More at Mic and Phoenix Times.

 

macindoe

Susan Stellin and Graham MacIndoe are raising money to fund the exhibition of their project American Exile at Photoville this autumn.

DONATE TO AMERICAN EXILE HERE

American Exile is a series of photographs and interviews documenting the stories of immigrants who have been ordered deported from the United States, as well as their family members – often, American citizens – who suffer the consequences of the harsh punishment and are sometimes forever separated from a parent or partner transported to foreign lands.

These are people who, ostensibly, have — just as you or I — lived, worked and paid taxes in the U.S. for extended periods. Bar fights that occurred 20 years ago, Visa paperwork deadlines missed, and other minor matters have sometimes led to deportation.

The tumorous growth America’s prison industrial complex goes back four decades whereas the focus of Graham and Susan’s work — the establishment of an extended archipelago of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities — is a much more recent, post 9/11 phenomenon. It is utterly contemporary and it meets the desperate need for journalism that probes ICE procedures.

DONATE TO AMERICAN EXILE HERE

MacIndoe spent five months in immigration detention in 2010, facing deportation because of a misdemeanor conviction – despite living in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident since 1999. After winning his case, he and Susan began gathering stories of families caught up in deportation proceedings, including asylum seekers, green card holders, and immigrants trapped in the bureaucracy of adjusting a visa.

I love Graham and Susan. They have a very comfortable couch. We’ve been friends for several years. Susan has a keen sense of justice and nous for a story and the will to bend an industry to our needs, not its. Graham is an addict who got clean, a street shooter, an artist, a great teacher (by all accounts) and a bit of a curmudgeon for all the right reasons.

DONATE TO AMERICAN EXILE HERE

Iris-&-Philippe copy

BIOGRAPHIES

Graham MacIndoe is a photographer and an adjunct professor of photography at Parsons The New School in New York City. Born in Scotland, he received a master’s degree in photography from the Royal College of Art in London and has shot editorial and advertising campaigns worldwide. He is represented by Little Big Man Gallery in Los Angeles, and his work is in many public and private collections. Follow Graham on Instagram and Twitter.

Susan Stellin has been a freelance reporter since 2000, contributing articles to The New York Times, New York, The Guardian, TheAtlantic.com and many other newspapers and magazines. She has worked as an editor at The New York Times and is a graduate of Stanford University.

In 2014, Susan and Graham were awarded a fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation for their project, American Exile, and are collaborating on a joint memoir that will be published by Random House (Ballantine) in 2016.

DONATE TO AMERICAN EXILE HERE

Fatoumata, The Bronx, NYC. 2013

Last week, photographer Graham MacIndoe and writer Susan Stellin were awarded a $20K Alicia Patterson Fellowship for their joint project The UnAmericans: Detained, Deported and Divided.

The project is “a series of interviews and photographs documenting the stories of immigrants who have been ordered deported from the U.S. as well as their family members — often, American citizens — who suffer the consequences of harsh punishment of exile. The stories illustrate the wide range of people locked up while caught up in deportation proceedings: not just individuals who crossed the border illegally but asylum seekers, legal permanent residents and immigrants trapped int he bureaucracy of adjusting a visa.”

Immigration and deportation, are arguably, one of the most pressing human rights issues on American soil. Many people subject to immigration and deportation proceedings are not hardened criminals, they are not violent, nor are they a threat to public safety. The long reach of ICE can collar Green Card holders who have lived in the U.S. for years or decades and who have raised families, paid taxes and abided the law. It can take only a small misdemeanor. Frequently, there is no recourse. Loving spouses are separated and society is asked to assume responsibility for children whose parents are sent half-way across the globe. The collateral effect of inflexible deportation laws on families and communities is considerable. MacIndoe and Stellin’s subjects have lived firsthand at edge of legal territory where resources are squeezed, timelines are shortened and due process is compromised; it is here where we can fathom our health, or lack of it, as a just nation.

Stellin and MacIndoe are both seasoned storytellers and their fusion of text and image is a huge advantage when making connection with audiences. The work is needed and it will shock you.

Dante's-Paperwork

INVISIBLE PROCEDURES

I’ve barely talked about Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) prisons here on the blog because they are very, very rarely photographed. ICE detention facilities are as unseen as ICE surveillance is broad.

Due to extended legal definitions and new laws, President Obama is deporting more people than any previous president. ICE facilities are often strategically hidden, nondescript buildings in urban hinterlands. ICE facilities also oversee near-permanent media shut out. With access so problematic, Stellin and MacIndoe’s decision to meet, interview, photograph and tell the stories of those who’ve been imprisoned is both wise and practical. The prison conditions will be described through first-hand testimony as opposed to literal photographic description. MacIndoe’s respectful and intimate portraits are our starting point.

Stellin brings years of reporting experience which has recently turned toward stories about Homeland security, border technology & search and the legal grey area for Green Card holders with minor offenses.

KNOWING YOUR SUBJECTS

MacIndoe was once subject himself to the Kafkaesque immigration and deportation system. I contend that from personal insight may grow public awareness.

Stellin and MacIndoe have already met, photographed and interviewed subjects. Many are fearful to go public. Scottish-born MacIndoe understands why non-citizens may be reticent but he has the personality to reassure, and understands the small margins on which our comfort rests. MacIndoe has become a friend and mentor to some of the family members he has met in the preliminary stages of the work. He understands that current immigration policy — in it’s inability to be flexible case-by-case —  impacts step-children, the poor and the already marginalized more than other groups. He knows that gay couples have not the same legal qualification and therefore protection. MacIndoe and Stellin are looking to hold a mirror to everyday people that have been harshly punished by very new laws. The laws are young, somewhat clumsy, inelegance and overly punitive.

The tumorous growth America’s prison industrial complex goes back four decades whereas the focus of The UnAmericans: Detained, Deported and Divided — the establishment of an extended archipelago of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities — is a much more recent, post 9/11 phenomenon. MacIndoe and Stellin’s work is utterly contemporary and it meets the desperate need for journalism that probes ICE procedures.

Highland-Park-NJ

All images: Graham MacIndoe

One glaring omission from Prison Photography is ICE detention centres and the prisons specifically designed for immigrants. Apart from the public stunts of Sheriff Arpaio (here and here) I have not featured any photography of immigrant detention or prisons.

This is partly because immigration policy and deportation infrastructures aren’t an area I know much about, but mainly because immigrant jails and prisons are the most invisible of all prisons in America. The media simply cannot get access like they can into state and county sites of incarceration.

As a course of policy, ICE detention sites are kept hidden. Allow me to push back against that a little:

Map courtesy of Global Detention Project.
More resources at the Detention Watch Network

In an attempt to redress this dearth of immigration coverage on Prison Photography, I point you in the direction of Tom Barry’s interview on Fresh Air yesterday. Thanks to Bob for the tip-off.

Here’s some things I learnt:

– Over the past five years immigrant imprisonment has increased 400%
– The policy of immediate deportation for illegal immigrants was replaced by imprisonment and deportation; a deliberate tactic intended to punish and deter future attempts to cross the US border illegally.
– Legal definitions of crime have broadened since 1996. Couple this with a syncopation of agency databases means constant threats of stop, search, detention and deportation of immigrants (both legal and illegal) now exist that did not 5 years ago.
– In this new era distinctions between legal and illegal immigrants have shrunk.
– Legal immigrants are subject to “a separate penal system”.
– 30% of deportees to Mexico don’t speak Spanish.
– The 11 border prisons are intentionally remote and located in economically depressed towns along the US/Mexico border.
– Immigrant prisons have a structure of financing and ownership that is unique. Tom Barry calls it “The Public/Private Prison Complex”, in which tax dollars and private corporations mix and match the funding. In many instances, administrators could not actually state who owned the facilities. This results in diluted accountability.
– The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the Geo group are the two largest private prison companies involved in immigrant detention.
– Privatised prisons were once a rarity in America. CCA and Geo got their start under Reagan winning contracts to house immigrants.
– CCA and Geo have enjoyed record profits over the past 8 years. 45% of their income derives from from state and federal contracts outsourcing immigrant detention.
– The perversely named ‘Operation Reservation Guaranteed’ means that detainees will always be sent to a bed/cell even if it is on the other side of the country. The transportation costs are met by the tax-payer.
– Wackenhut, an arm of Geo group, is the sub-contractor for these long, expensive and unnecessary transportations.
– It is common that detainees are moved without warning or reason. It is common that detainees cannot be located by the private prison companies for long periods.
– And much, much more. Listen, I highly recommend.

Tom Barry covers border security and immigration issues as the Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for International Policy. He has written several books, including The Great Divide and Zapata’s Revenge.

Tom just published A Death in Texas a piece for the Boston Review about a riot at an ICE prison in Texas. The riot was an “act of solidarity” by the detained population following the death of a young prisoner.

Tom maintains the Border Lines blog for the TransBorder Project is a project of the Americas Policy Program in Mexico City and the Center for International Policy in Washington, DC..

Approximately 200 convicted illegal immigrants handcuffed together arrive at their new part of the jail as they are moved into a separate area of Tent City, by orders of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, for incarceration until their sentences are served and they are deported to their home countries Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Approximately 200 convicted illegal immigrants handcuffed together arrive at their new part of the jail as they are moved into a separate area of Tent City, by orders of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, for incarceration until their sentences are served and they are deported to their home countries Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Hopefully, Prison Photography helps to clarify the facts behind images. In Maricopa County, Arizona yesterday the zealous Sheriff Joe Arpaio, ordered a parade of guarded, unsentenced & undocumented immigrants. Hand-cuffed and dressed in stripes, the men walked from one facility to Tent City. Hatewatch summarised the scene:

Along the way they were filmed by television news crews and guarded by at least 50 Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) deputies, wearing body armor and combat fatigues, armed with shotguns and automatic rifles. At least two canine units were present; a Sheriff’s Department helicopter hovered overhead.

The massive show of force was pure stagecraft for a blatant and dehumanizing publicity stunt orchestrated by Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio. The MCSO gave no indication that any of the immigrant prisoners were particularly violent or presented a grave danger to the public.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, left, orders approximately 200 convicted illegal immigrants handcuffed together and moved into a separate area of Tent City, inmates behind Arpaio, for incarceration until their sentences are served and they are deported to their home countries Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, left, orders approximately 200 convicted illegal immigrants handcuffed together and moved into a separate area of Tent City, inmates behind Arpaio, for incarceration until their sentences are served and they are deported to their home countries Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Arpaio, the self proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America”, has been roundly condemned by civil rights advocates, most of the regional media and clear-thinking locals for his colourful publicity stunt. Arpaio is a man hell bent on cleansing his county of undocumented immigrants and has done so by targeting Latino neighbourhoods, stopping Latinos for minor infractions (as an excuse for searching), and frequently deployed mask-wearing/gun-toting forces in petty shows of strength. Hatewatch elaborates on how all this is possible:

Arpaio is lionized by Minutemen vigilantes and other nativist extremists for his controversial “287(g)” arrangement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which empowers the MCSO, a local agency, to enforce federal immigration law.

Many Latinos taken into custody in recent months by MCSO 287(g) squads have been pulled over for minor traffic violations, such as a broken headlight or an improper lane change, and then arrested when they’re unable to produce proof of citizenship or a valid visa.

Feb. 4, 2009, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Feb. 4, 2009, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Arpaio is a nasty piece of work and it is unlikely he will let up. Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona, said “You’re sort of giving the message that it’s OK to treat these inmates differently. It’s OK to treat them like circus animals.” Meetze added, “He didn’t have to make a spectacle. He could’ve moved them on buses.” In the meantime, Arpaio said his office has received $1.6 million funding from the state that will go toward tackling illegal immigration.

Is dehumanisation is the issue? The point has been made on the blogs that when Iraqi forces paraded five US marines in March 2003, Rumsfeld cited it as a breach of the Geneva Convention, and yet here on American soil we have men defined as criminals, reduced to visual cliché and props in a vulgar display of power. Do these images shock? They shock me. Are they not images of racist control by the state?

Feb. 4, 2009, in Phoenix. Arpaio said housing the illegal immigrants separately would save money, although he did not explain how other than to say it's cheaper to house inmates in tents than at traditional jails. He also said the move will be more convenient for consulate officials visiting foreign inmates and for Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents charged with deporting the inmates after they have served sentences in county jails. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Feb. 4, 2009, in Phoenix. Arpaio said housing the illegal immigrants separately would save money, although he did not explain how other than to say it's cheaper to house inmates in tents than at traditional jails. He also said the move will be more convenient for consulate officials visiting foreign inmates and for Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents charged with deporting the inmates after they have served sentences in county jails. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Fortunately, Arpaio, try as he might, is not winning the public relations war. His brand of policing is considered by many as direct challenge to law.

Speaking of law. The Phoenix New Times noted, this pantomime just happened to fall “on the same day that his employee and political helper, Captain Joel Fox, is set to appear at a hearing to context a massive $315,000 fine for making an illegal campaign donation in the name of the mysterious “Sheriff’s Command Association,”

Which event do you think average news consumers will remember on Thursday – an administrative hearing concerning a convoluted tale of campaign finance laws, or the image of 200 Mexicans in stripes marching in chains down a public street?

Last year, Arpaio paid a visit to one of his tent jails. It gave him the opportunity for yet another photo opportunity!

Former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson listens to Sheriff Joe Arpaio (R) in the tent Tyson will stay in for 24 hours at  Maricopa County Jail's tent city for prisoners in Phoenix, Arizona November 20, 2007. Tyson was sentenced on Monday to three years probation and one day in jail for drug possession and driving under the influence. Tyson is holding a copy of the book "American Gangster"  according to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. REUTERS/Photo Courtesy of Maricopa County Sheriffs Department/Handout

Former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson listens to Sheriff Joe Arpaio (R) in the tent Tyson will stay in for 24 hours at Maricopa County Jail's tent city for prisoners in Phoenix, Arizona November 20, 2007. Tyson was sentenced on Monday to three years probation and one day in jail for drug possession and driving under the influence. Tyson is holding a copy of the book "American Gangster" according to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. REUTERS/Photo Courtesy of Maricopa County Sheriffs Department/Handout

I’ll leave you with this eloquent summary of Arpaio’s antics from Kevin Appleby, the Director of Migration and Refugee Policy with U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Shackling and marching fellow human beings for all to see is not in line with the values of the American people. While Guantanamo (Bay) is being closed, another one is being started in Arizona,”

For more images of this circus, see Jack Kurtz’s Blog or Ross D. Franklin’s AP Gallery. If you’d like to book a tour of the Tent City, Sheriff Arpaio’s office can make arrangements. Be sure to wear smart casual.

Thanks to Brendan at Anxiety Neurosis for sharing this through Google Reader

EMAIL

prisonphotography [at] gmail [dot] com

@BROOKPETE ON TWITTER

Prison Photography Archives

Post Categories