I spent the years 2019-2020 deeply immersed in migrant justice work in NorthEast Ohio for different organizations and conducting sustained research on border imperialism, the criminalization of migration, immigration detention, and the dismantling of humanitarian protections for people seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. Witnessing the crushing magnitude and violence of immigration enforcement was intertwined at that time with personal anxieties related to my precarious immigration status in transition, which enabled me to reflect on how I am positioned in the system and the degrees of insecurity and privilege I experienced. This culminated with a series of literary essays, a number of reports on immigration enforcement, and a series of political education workshops. Selections from these intertwined projects are detailed below.
THE DOCKET (2020)
My examination of U.S. immigration detention included court monitoring at the Cleveland immigration court and observing deportation proceedings for a report put together by a migrant legal defense organization. Witnessing the ways in which bureaucracy is weaponized and used to gratuitously punish and entrap people in an impossible labyrinthine system with no likely exit but deportation led to my writing this personal essay. This is a performance of the essay I delivered for the 2020 Tint Journal Literary Festival, Tinted Tales. You can read the essay here.
When Claiming Asylum Means Losing All Human Rights: Border Imperialism and the Criminalization of Central American Asylum Seekers, a report prepared for the InterReligious Task Force on Central America and Colombia, August 2020. Read here.
“How Morrow County Jail Became 100% COVID-19 Positive,” a report co-authored with Amy Crossin and Lynn Tramonte, for the Ohio Immigrant Alliance, June 2020. Read here.
The Morrow County Sheriff’s Office failed to follow its own Infectious Disease Control Program (IDCP), required by the State of Ohio, as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) National Detention Standards (NDS), required under the federal contract. These mistakes led the Morrow County Correctional Facility to become the first county jail in Ohio, and the first ICE detention center in the United States, to allow every inmate to be infected with COVID-19.
This report outlines numerous examples where the jail violated its own written IDCP and the federal NDS. These failures, both systemic and deliberate, led directly to the jail’s massive infection rate and the death of Oscar Lopez Acosta, a Dayton father detained at the Morrow County Jail for civil immigration reasons.