Tuesday, January 7, 2020

MIGRATING TO PRISON :: César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández

A version of this review previously appeared in Shelf Awareness and is republished here with permission.

The U.S. is obsessed with locking up immigrants, says César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, lawyer and University of Denver professor, who has extensive knowledge about U.S. immigration and imprisonment. Migrating to Prison provides an eye-opening look at the origins of the system and how it operates, with family detention somehow viewed as a humanitarian response to family separation; particularly infuriating when separations result from the targeting of "criminal aliens." These fellow humans range from asylum seekers fleeing hardships to soldiers dealing with PTSD after fighting for the country that now disowns them.
García Hernández presents an abundance of facts and history in a passionate yet credible fashion that should raise the hackles of everyone. The tale isn't a new one. Targeted confinement dates back to anti-Chinese sentiment of 1800s California. It's no coincidence that selective imprisonment escalated following the civil rights movement--a substitution for racism that could no longer be expressed as openly. García Hernández posits that the system isn't broken, but is intended to marginalize minorities for political and financial gain.
The author argues that immigration law is like "a bouncer at a trendy nightclub" and Americans have "always used fear and race to imprison those we see as threats," allowing "white racists [to] find comfort against the prevailing winds of change." García Hernández makes a solid case for the situation as a "humanitarian catastrophe." By any stretch, "the promise that the United States welcomes 'anyone with the will and heart to get here' is flat out false." 

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About Malcolm Avenue Review

I was lucky enough to be born and raised in a nifty, oak-shaded ranch house on Malcolm Avenue, a wide-laned residential street with little through traffic, located amid the foothills of Northern California. It was on that street and in that house I learned most of my adolescent life lessons, and many grown-up ones to boot. Malcolm Avenue was "home" for more than thirty years.

It was on Malcolm Avenue, through and with my family and the other families that made up our neighborhood of characters, that I first learned about and gained an appreciation for the things I continue to love the most to this day: music, animals, photography, sports, television/movies and, of course, books.

I owe a debt of gratitude to that life on Malcolm Avenue. It gave me a sense of community and friendship, support and adventure. For better and worse, life on that street likely had the biggest impact on the person I've become. So this blog, and the things I write here, are all, at their base level, a little bit of a love letter to Malcolm Avenue.


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