The impact of incarceration on the migrants in the federal immigration facility in El Centro, California, which operated from 1945 to 2014, is obscured by limited-access government records that emphasize the efficiency of the non-punitive immigration holding center. Direct observation revealed a restrictive environment, an authoritarian regime, and dehumanizing protocols. These discrepancies led to a search for information on the emotional impact of the facility on migrants incarcerated there. This required the collection of data from alternative sources, including interviews, private collections, photographs, activists’ correspondence, journalists’ investigations, and Mexican officials’ inquiries—an emotive archive.
Migrant Detention Archives: Histories of Pain and Solidarity
Jessica Ordaz is Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. She received her doctorate from the University of California Davis in American History, with a minor field in Latin American History. Ordaz is currently completing a book manuscript entitled Hauntings and Liminal Punishments: The Detention of Migrants in California’s Imperial Valley, which examines the history of the El Centro Immigration Detention Center.
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Jessica Ordaz; Migrant Detention Archives: Histories of Pain and Solidarity. Southern California Quarterly 7 August 2020; 102 (3): 250–273. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/scq.2020.102.3.250
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