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Legal Geography Plenary: César García Hernández Discusses America's Obsession with Immigrant Detention

Type: Paper
Theme: Ethnonationalism and Exclusion Around the World
Sponsor Groups: Legal Geography Specialty Group, Latinx Geographies Specialty Group, Political Geography Specialty Group
Organizers: Austin Kocher
Chairs: Austin Kocher


The Legal Geography Specialty Group is hosting its very first plenary speaker event at the 2020 AAG in Denver. César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, Associate Professor of law at the University of Denver, will be speaking on the topic of his book "Migrating to Prison: America's Obsession with Locking up Immigrants" ( Given the longstanding tradition of legal geographers looking at questions of law, space, and state power, and the relevance of immigration issues in our current political climate, we believe César is an excellent fit for our first plenary talk. The talk will be on April 8 with the time TBD.


César's Professional Website:
César on Twitter:
Book Website:


For most of America’s history, we simply did not lock people up for migrating here. Yet over the last thirty years, the federal and state governments have increasingly tapped their powers to incarcerate people accused of violating immigration laws. As a result, almost 400,000 people annually now spend some time locked up pending the result of a civil or criminal immigration proceeding.

In Migrating to Prison, leading scholar César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández takes a hard look at the immigration prison system’s origins, how it currently operates, and why. He tackles the emergence of immigration imprisonment in the mid-1980s, with enforcement resources deployed disproportionately against Latinos, and he looks at both the outsized presence of private prisons and how those on the political right continue, disingenuously, to link immigration imprisonment with national security risks and threats to the rule of law.

Interspersed with powerful stories of people caught up in the immigration imprisonment industry, including children who have spent most of their lives in immigrant detention, Migrating to Prison is an urgent call for the abolition of immigration prisons and a radical reimagining of the United States: who belongs and on what criteria is that determination made?

The book will be released on December 3, 2019.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Introduction Austin Kocher Syracuse University 5 12:00 AM

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