Beds and Biometrics
Beds and Biometrics
The Legacy of the Criminal Alien Program
Prominent Arizona conservatives and, some would argue, liberal reformers helped spearhead law and order policies that exploded the U.S. prison population and created a crisis of prison overcrowding. This chapter argues that the scramble for prison beds was a major force behind the Criminal Alien Program (CAP), which Congress pushed as a way to purge noncitizens from jails and prisons in order to free up prison beds. CAP gave primacy to criminal enforcement targets and unleashed an onslaught of measures that restructured immigrant detention and deportation, spawned similar programs like “absconder” initiatives, “fugitive” operations, Security Communities, and immigrant prosecution programs like Operation Streamline—in other words, many of the punitive policies we associate with the criminalization of migration in the United States today. However, punitive policies are not necessarily a “backlash” against rights and protections that reformers fought for for over a century. Rather, they operate within post–civil rights “antidiscrimination” constitutional frameworks in ways that recognize rights for certain “victims,” while aggressively punishing and banishing those branded as criminal.
Keywords: law and order policies, deportation, detention beds, prisons, mass incarceration, civil rights, Criminal Alien Program, Department of Homeland Security, enforcement priorities, immigration and border policies
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