Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Clandestine ICE Subfield Offices

12/22/2009 UPDATE: For a recently published article inThe Nation magazine, please read "America's Secret ICE Castles."

For a list of ICE subfield offices and their phone numbers sent to me in response to a FOIA request, please go here.

A few weeks ago I was driving with Mark Lyttle to some of the government offices that had kidnapped him, stripped him of his rightful identity documents, rendered him stateless, and deported him to Mexico. (For more on how Mark, 33, born in North Carolina, was deported, please go here.)

One of the places we stopped was an address on several of the documents issued Mark from an ICE office in Cary, North Carolina. When we first arrived at the industrial park in a suburb of Raleigh, I thought google/maps had led me astray. 140 Centrewest Court was just next to a production plant for Oxford University Press, and off a main road with some gated communities. There was no sign indicating an ICE facility.

When I started to express some doubts Mark said, "No, this is it. That's one of their vans." He pointed to a white van with no marking and no windows behind the driver's seat. He recognized it because he'd been driven in one like that, in shackles and handcuffs. (It's not in these photos, alas.)

We continued toward the end of the road and found ourselves behind 140 Centrewest Court, at the far end of the development, adjacent to at least 15 unmarked white vans identical to the one we'd seen in front.

There was no sign anywhere indicating that this was a government building, much less a place where people were being held by ICE in transit to larger facilities.

Though there was a sign suggesting one might be given travel documents.

When I returned to Berkeley I called up some folks to see if I could learn more about these secret sites. Kathy Purnell, an Immigrant Rights Fellow at the ACLU in Georgia told me that she'd read something about them in a recent report by Dora Schriro, "Immigration Detention Overview and Recommendations" (October 6, 2009).

According to the report, these offices are used to hold people for up to 12 - 16 hours and are used for "84% of all book-ins." The subfield offices are below the legal radar so it would be impossible for anyone to know the conditions and if the limits are enforced.

I called ICE and requested a list of what the report says are 186 subfield offices.

First I was rebuffed. Temple Black, an ICE public affairs officer, checked with his supervisor and told me that these locations were "not releasable." He said the list was "law enforcement sensitive." Around the time he told me this he had a family emergency and left town. Mr. Black put me in touch with someone else at ICE who did release the list to me.

(I'm still not sure of the list's official classification. Mr. Black told me today that he was told the list was law enforcement sensitive and that he couldn't remember anything else, nor did he have information on why another individual would release the list.)

The list is not complete (it has 174/186 locations) and at least one of the addresses is not accurate. I have requested a complete list and am waiting for that.

I circulated the list to various civil rights and immigrant rights groups, including Detention Watch Network, the ACLU, and Human Rights Watch. I also shared it with about a half dozen attorneys who work on immigration law enforcement. No one had previously seen it. Some of the locations are known detention centers and federal buildings but many are like the place I saw in Cary: unmarked buildings with unmarked cars housing agents who themselves travel incognito.

For more on what's happening at these places, and the response from activists and attorneys, stay tuned for an article that will be appearing shortly in a national magazine. Meanwhile, feel free to stop by and say hello.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Word From Our Sponsor...

Okay, I guess that's me.

States Without Nations: Citizenship for Mortals may not exist, but the book is now a reality. It was published this week by Columbia University Press as part of its series New Directions in Critical Theory, edited by Amy Allen.

I hope you judge it by the cover. (Thank you, Columbia designers!)

Here's the catalogue copy:
As citizens, we hold certain truths to be self-evident: that the rights to own land, marry, inherit property, and especially to assume birthright citizenship should be guaranteed by the state. The laws promoting these rights appear not only to preserve our liberty but to guarantee society remains just. Yet considering how much violence and inequality results from these legal mandates, Jacqueline Stevens asks whether we might be making the wrong assumptions. Would a world without such laws be more just?

Arguing that the core laws of the nation-state are more about a fear of death than a desire for freedom, Stevens imagines a world in which birthright citizenship, family inheritance, state-sanctioned marriage, and private land ownership are eliminated. Would chaos be the result? Drawing on political theory and history and incorporating contemporary social and economic data, she brilliantly critiques our sentimental attachments to birthright citizenship, inheritance, and marriage and highlights their harmful outcomes, including war, global apartheid, destitution, family misery, and environmental damage. It might be hard to imagine countries without the rules of membership and ownership that have come to define them, but conjuring new ways of reconciling our laws with the condition of mortality reveals the flaws of our present institutions and inspires hope for moving beyond them.
And, yes, there are blurbs:
"Imagining governments and citizenship unbeholden to rules of birth-that is, cleaving the state from the family (i.e. the nation)-is the single most important thought experiment in political theory since John Rawls asked us to consider justice from a position of veiled ignorance. Jacqueline Stevens is not just a punchy provacateur, she is a careful scholar and an engaging writer. States without Nations is a must read for any scholar of the politics, sociology or legal studies of the state-and anyone concerned with distributive justice." — Dalton Conley, Dean for the Social Sciences, New York University

"States without Nations is a scathing indictment of kinship-based membership. In an argument as unrelenting as it is brilliant, Jacqueline Stevens challenges feminists, liberals, and, indeed, anyone who values peace and security, to join her in recognizing and rejecting kinship as the ultimate source of violence. This original and much-needed intervention will reshape debates in international relations, political science, and women's studies." — Jodi Dean, author of Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies

"States Without Nations is a brutal exposé of the violent and mutually implicating underpinnings of liberal theory and national identity, and it constitutes nothing less than an early attempt to reconceptualize and reorganize world citizenship anew. I find it brilliant, bold, breathtaking, pioneering, far-reaching, and visionary. There's nothing else quite like it." — John Evan Seery, professor of politics, Pomona College

"No myth needs exploding more urgently than that of the tight association of state with nation, of the exigencies of governance with the idea of people defined by culture and common descent. No misconception has done more damage in modern political theory. And no theorist is better positioned to explode this myth-in its birthright, where it lives, in its premises of blood and land and birth-than Jacqueline Stevens." — Jeremy Waldron, University Professor, New York University School of Law
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