Immigration and the Politics of Moral Corruption

Photo by Jonathan McIntosh | CC BY 2.0

Genocides, drug trades, gang violence, famines, natural disasters, poverty, political upheaval, ecological degradation… All around the world, asylum seekers and migrants, displaced by forces larger than themselves, are crossing national borders in search of basic human rights. Authors of Up Against The Wall, psychologist Mary Watkins and philosopher Ed Casey argue that as the global refugee and immigrant crisis continues to grow, how America manages its relationship to the U.S.-Mexico border will set an example for the rest of the world.

If Watkins and Casey’s postulation is correct, and if America is setting an example, this is what the world is seeing: Tent cities. Chain-linked fences. Bare cement floors. Foil sheets for blankets. Kids, some in diapers, herded into cages, crying for their lost mothers and fathers. And President Trump attempting to justify the separation of families: “They could be murderers and thieves and so much else.”

The United States has a long past in racial, ethnic, and religious scapegoating. But criminalization of migrants is essential in particular to today’s detention and deportation industries. After all, the detention-industrial complex is an extension of the prison-industrial complex. Hired by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and assigned a yearly detention quota by Congress, private prison companies strongly benefit from the President’s rhetoric labeling undocumented…

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