Valle de inmigrantes enjaulados: castigo, protesta y la aparición del Centro de Detención Puerto Isabel

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Autores

Resumen

Pese a la idea generalizada de que la detención de inmigrantes en Estados Unidos era absolutamente inexistente antes de la década de 1980, en realidad la práctica aumentó sustancialmente durante los primeros años de la posguerra (Segunda Guerra Mundial), especialmente en el Valle del Río Grande (RGV), en Texas. La detención de inmigrantes en el RGV llegó a ser vital para la expansión de la red del Servicio de Inmigración y Naturalización (INS), para otros organismos federales y para instituciones con ánimo de lucro que aquí se denominan el complejo industrial fronterizo. Sin duda, desde 1961 con su primer centro de detención permanente de inmigrantes, construido para ese fin expresamente, el Centro de Detención Puerto Isabel (PIDC), el sur de Texas se convirtió en un engranaje vital del complejo industrial fronterizo en su tarea de controlar, inmovilizar y deportar a quienes cruzaban la frontera. En los primeros años de la posguerra, el encierro de inmigrantes (o la detención y encarcelamiento de inmigrantes en el marco del código legal de inmigración) en el RGV pasó de ser una respuesta temporal y circunstancial a una crisis perpetua. Con el mayor apoyo del congreso a los controles a la inmigración, para la década de 1970, no solo el INS, sino también el Servicio de Alguaciles estadounidenses (US Marshals Service), y la Oficina de Prisiones de Estados Unidos tuvo mayores números de personas encerradas invocando el código legal de inmigración. En las décadas de 1980 y 1990, cuando los solicitantes de asilo quedaban atrapados en una retención indefinida en el RGV, los abusos en el encierro se volvieron cada vez más comunes. Basado en datos históricos cuantitativos y cualitativos, este artículo hace un seguimiento al aumento del encierro de inmigrantes en todo el país y en el PIDC. Usando archivos federales de Estados Unidos y México, así como colecciones de diferentes organizaciones de defensa de inmigrantes en el RGV, el artículo analiza la evidencia de abusos contra los detenidos en esta región, y las protestas de los mismos. Sostiene que la detención de inmigrantes de la posguerra, como un engranaje del encierro de inmigrantes y el complejo industrial fronterizo ha demostrado ser un desastre en términos de derechos humanos.

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