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From Deportation to PrisonThe Politics of Immigration Enforcement in Post-Civil Rights America$
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Patrisia Macías-Rojas

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781479804665

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479804665.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

Beds and Biometrics

Beds and Biometrics

The Legacy of the Criminal Alien Program

(p.40) 2 Beds and Biometrics
From Deportation to Prison

Patrisia Macías-Rojas

NYU Press

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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