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Immigration Law

The Origins of American Immigration Detention

Tanvi Misra, Ariel Aberg-Riger, Bloomberg CityLab, July 20, 2021

"The U.S. incarcerates more noncitizens than anywhere else in the world. On any given day in the U.S., thousands of people — adults and children — are in government custody, sometimes for indefinite periods of time.  The purpose of detention is logistical — a way to hold people suspected of having committed civil border-related offenses. But detention is inherently punitive.  And as the immigration enforcement machinery has expanded to become the behemoth it is today, it affects an increasing number of people.  The evolution of America’s immigration system originates in a quest to sort desirables from undesirables.  In this visual explainer, we explore the roots of this system, laid a long time ago."