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‘I Became a Jailer’: The Origins of American Immigrant Detention

The massive U.S. apparatus for holding immigrants has a long American tradition. 

relates to ‘I Became a Jailer’: The Origins of American Immigrant Detention

Ariel Aberg-Riger

The U.S. incarcerates more noncitizens than anywhere else in the world. On any given day in the U.S., thousands of people — adults and children — are in government custody, sometimes for indefinite periods of time.

The purpose of detention is logistical — a way to hold people suspected of having committed civil border-related offenses. But detention is inherently punitive. And as the immigration enforcement machinery has expanded to become the behemoth it is today, it affects an increasing number of people.