Putting TRAC to Work
  Legal and Scholarly
American Behavorial Scientist

How the State Criminalizes Immigrants and to What Effect: A Multidisciplinary Account
By Filiz Garip, Shannon Gleeson and Matthew Hall, Cornell University

Beyond the screening that happens at the border, on the side of the road, in jails, and elsewhere (e.g., the workplace [Griffith, 2011]), immigrants spend unnecessarily long waits in the immigration detention system until an immigration official hears their case. To this end, Asad provides a rich ethnographic account of judicial decision making in the immigration court system. Nationwide, immigration courts have increasingly become bogged down; case backlogs reached nearly 2 years in fiscal year 2018 (Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, 2018). Asad’s insights confirm the important role of judges as street-level bureaucrats, or front-line agents, who craft narratives of deservingness when deciding whether to report a noncitizen from the country or whether to exercise discretion in an apparent attempt to circumvent the removal process. Ryo and Peacock shift the analytic lens to detention, an increasingly obligatory part of the deportation process, especially for those immigrants deemed “criminal aliens.” Although federal facilities are the primary focus of critics, particularly those are privately contracted and unevenly regulated, many immigrants are housed in local jails. Ryo and Peacock show how reliance on local jails can exacerbate overcrowding and due process log jams, with community contexts in which immigrant are detained likely determining who benefits from access to legal counsel and a robust social network, and who does not.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2019
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