Militarization of migration control – Scapegoating, Xenophobia and Profit-Making

I have never understood why we raid and arrest people for ‘working’ and then jail them, separating them from their families and friends. If people come to America, work hard, stay out of trouble and better their lives while contributing to our economy, why not give them work permits? No, I don’t want to hear ‘illegal is illegal’ — breaking traffic laws is illegal but doing so once or twice does not warrant you a lifetime suspension from driving. Heck, the war in Iraq is illegal but I don’t see conservatives protesting about the massive loss of lives the way they complain about people working and living here without proper authorization.

It amazes me how much immigration law has been securitized over the years. When did we start “policing” undocumented workers? The militarization of migration control comes with gross human rights violations, not to mention that it is not the most appropriate response to people fleeing bad economic and political conditions. I think while part of it has to do with scapegoating, another part of it is just a ‘fear of difference’ and hanging onto nationalist sentiments in the age of rapid globalization. Nationalism, that I may add, has always been based on ‘difference’ and in opposition of the ‘Other.’

Oh, wait, the intellectual Marxist is knocking on the door and telling me that militarization of immigration makes even more profit for capitalism, so of course it makes sense to round up our workers and put them in jails and detention centers ran increasingly by private corporations. Sounds bizarre? Check out this article – Jailing immigrants for profit.

Here are a few excerpts:

  • Private prison companies control about 20% of federal prison and detention beds, up from 3% in 2001. (the boom has mostly been due to locking up more immigrants)
  • The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a publicly traded company, receives at least $2.8 million each month from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for operating the just one detention facility.
  • In January 2006, Homeland Security awarded KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary, a contract worth up to $385 million to build temporary immigrant detention facilities in case of an “emergency influx of immigrants,” according to a KBR press release.
  • the private sector operates most of the recently opened facilities for profit, with CCA and GEO Group dominating the market. The federal government now spends about $1 billion annually on immigrant detention: the average rate for an immigrant body is $95 per day.

If anyone has more information (scholarly articles, statistics) that talks about the profit made from the militarization of immigration control, hit me up and we can build resources under “Detention Watch”

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