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November 26, 2021 (1 min read)

Bill Boyarsky, UCLA Blueprint, Fall 2021

"ACADEMICS, UNIVERSITY STUDENTS and activists are creating an informal network reaching throughout California and beyond to seek justice for the more than 25,000 immigrants held in federal detention centers across the nation. It is eye-opening work and often distressing.

Members of the network struggle to penetrate the secrecy in which Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shrouds its immigration centers, many located far from attorneys who might be able to help. When the network pierces the concealment, it often finds babies imprisoned with their mothers, random mistreatment by guards and an ever-growing backlog of cases awaiting hearings in immigration court.

“As a state university, we have an obligation to train students who will give back to the state, and immigrants are terribly important. Immigrants contribute greatly to the state,” Ingrid Eagly, a UCLA law professor who is part of the network, told me in a recent telephone interview.

Victor Narro, project director at the UCLA Labor Center and one of Eagly’s network colleagues, put it this way: “We are activist scholars, bringing the university into the streets.”

Championing justice is crucial now, when immigrants are arriving in California and throughout the United States in ever-growing numbers, and it will become ever more urgent as desperate newcomers — refugees hoping for asylum after President Biden’s end to the war in Afghanistan — attempt to enter the country. This is the immediate future of the battle over immigration, one that will shape the future of Los Angeles and the larger nation. It is far from settled. ... "