Dr. David Hernández is assistant professor of Spanish, Latina/o, and Latin American studies at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.

Throughout America, immigrants—most of whom haven’t even been accused of a crime—are jailed alongside convicted criminals. Officials can legally hold noncitizens indefinitely before deporting them, and without giving them legal rights afforded citizens convicted of even the most serious offenses.

“Four hundred thousand immigrants—men, women, and children—90 percent of them from Latin America and the Caribbean—are deported each year,” says Hernández. “They cycle through the nation’s 34,000 detention beds, some staying a few nights, some for weeks, others for years. Some have committed deportable crimes, but others have just overstayed their visas or are seeking asylum in the United States. They’re held in 250 facilities—federal detention centers, for-profit prisons, and county jails.

“They can suffer all the abuses other prisoners suffer, including solitary confinement for arbitrary reasons, detention of children, sexual abuse, and denial of adequate medical care. About 100 people have died in immigration facilities in the last decade.”

Download “Detained in Obscurity: the US Immigrant Detention Regime” by David Hernández (see "download" in first graf)