FEMALE IMMIGRANT PRISON
1. View photos of the exhibition (use arrows or click/tap)
2. Watch the video component
“They gave us a good chat as to why not to do it and instead for us to write to ICE. But we told them thank you and that we would write to ICE, but we were not backing up on the strike.”
“Nos dieron una buena charla de porque no hacerlo y que mejor le escribiéramos a ICE. Le dijimos gracias y que le escribiríamos a ICE pero que no detendremos la huelga.”
Sarah, former detainee
3. Read the essay component
In 2020, immigrant women detained at LaSalle Detention Facility released a video
from detention detailing their exposure to COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic. Later that fall, Project South
released a whistleblower report
detailing an unusual rate of hysterectomies at Irwin County Detention Center. This is not unusual. Anti-immigrant hysteria has often centered around the wombs of women, which are seen as the source of the eventual replacement of white populations. This conspiracy theory is often referenced by white supremacist mass shooters,
including the shooter in El Paso. Yet it is often sexual and state violence that forces women to leave their home countries, only to find themselves battling a court system that demands proof of already experienced harm before taking their fears seriously.
While still under-represented in stories about migration, immigrant women make up almost half of all transnational migration. According to Rachel Rosenbaum, immigrant women often replace, at great cost to themselves, the domestic labor that allow middle class families in the US and Global North to balance the demands of childcare, reproductive labor, and capitalist job markets, allowing them to keep a tenuous hold on a middle class lifestyle that seems to be slipping away. Working class families who cannot outsource their domestic labor often see immigrant men, women, and children as their chief competition in an economic system that provides few opportunities and social safety nets.
Nonetheless, immigrant women continue to expand their capacity to resist through domestic labor alliances
and anti-violence campaigns. Detained immigrant women have also increased their capacity to resist, especially in family detention centers. In April 2015, 78 mothers at Karnes,
initiated a hunger strike, quickly followed by another 27 women at T. Don Hutto
in October, one of the first family immigrant prisons. In 2019, advocates and detainees started a campaign to Shut Down Berks.
Many of these campaigns have continued, with multiple hunger strikes
often going on at the same time throughout the country, even during the Trump years and under COVID-19.
4. Listen to personal narratives from two women
5. Read letters from Sarah
Sarah was detained by ICE on a greyhound bus while visiting friends in Louisiana. Before her family could intervene, she was deported and sedated on the plane ride to Mexico.
In the letters below, Sarah writes of her experiences taking part in the third Bring Them Home
campaign organized by the National Immigrant Youth Alliance. In March 2014, along with more than 150 people, she presented herself at the Otay checkpoint and asked for a credible fear interview. Throughout the spring and summer, thousands of immigrant families began using the tactic, which NIYA had initially borrowed from them, during the first so-called “border surge.”
In her letters, Sarah recounts the experience of organizing a hunger strike, or “rain,” at the Otay Detention Facility and the measures that ICE took to tamp it down. In recent years, immigrant women have increasingly used hunger strikes as a way to make their demands heard.
March 27-28, 2014
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Hello my handsome brother + beautiful sis-in-law.
Let me guess, right about now you must be sitting or laying in the couch. (but I'm voting on that you both are in the room)
You lazy butts. JK or am I?...
Dude right now things are looking a little confusing.
I just found out that the guys were taken away in the middle of the night + at this time we don't know where they are. (I'm seriously sad by that)
They are blocking numbers + I'm sad that at some point we won't have a number to call.
I'm worried but I'm praying to be home soon, so that you can buy me a huge salad and stuff. Pluss sis is buying me a margarita and you are paying for the many more after that. hehe! Please give my lovely nephew a bunch of hugs and kisses for me. I can't wait to meet my lil [redacted] and [redacted]. And [redacted], I don't know about you but you are getting me a tattoo.
OMG! It turns out that I now have a nervous tick. :(
It makes my right eye hurt after a while.
Today they took 6 people, release them that is. We are waiting on our answers.
My roommate got her answer today and is a good one.
Friday March 28, 2014
Dudes, today three of the girls that walked in with me got denied. Now I'm beginning to stress. Might even request for a visit to the psychologist. Apparently I forgot to mention that I was already seeing one. [name redacted] from TX was one of them, (you know me and my book smart got me looking through her papers that they gave her) her copy copy of the deny said something that catched my eye. They've known for the longest (March 21st) of her answer. Not only that got me worried by we also found out that 6 of our guys (that walked with us) got denied. So major stress going on here. All I know now is that the margarita better have some major spike. Because if denied Im quoting Patrick Henry.
As of now I'm on full alert to the bells but instead of them screaming "The British are comming" it be "The migra is comming"!
Today was so not my day, besides those news, just when I was happy about my meal being a veggie one they fudge up and insult me with pasta and ground beef (those asses be trying to say that is soy meat) as if. Then just when I'm finally able to use the restroom after so many days of constipation the officer passes by just as I sit on the throne. (ughh!) Don't you dare laugh! [drawing of tongue blowing raspberry] Anyhows, I love you both and can't wait to see you. Love you so so much!
AKA JailBird AKA Veggie eater. <3
Jueves, Marzo 27, 2014
Hola mi hermano hermoso y cuñada bonita.
...Chicos las cosas se están viendo confusas. Apenas escuché que los chicos se los llevaron en la media noche y esta vez no sabemos donde están. (en serio me da tristeza)...
Están bloqueando números y estoy triste porque en algún punto no tendremos un numero para llamar. Estoy preocupada pero rezando para estar en casa pronto para que me compren una ensalada grande y más cosas. Además, hermana me va comprar una margarita y tú vas a pagar las que siguen. jeje! Por favor denle a mi sobrino muchos abrazos y besos de mi parte. No puedo esperar para conocer a mi pequeño [redactado] y [redactado]. No sé de ustedes pero me van a conseguir un tatuaje. Dios mio! Parece que tengo un tic nervioso. Mi ojo derecho empieza a doler después de un rato...
Viernes Marzo 28, 2014
Chicos hoy tres de las chicas que vinieron conmigo fueron rechazadas. Ahora me estoy estresando. Estoy pensando en pedir una visita al psicólogo... No solo eso... sino que también aprendimos que 6 de nuestros chicos (los que caminaron con nosotros) fueron rechazados. Entonces hay mucho estrés por aquí. Solo se que la margarita más vale que tenga un piquete bien fuerte. Porque si me rechazan voy a citar a Patrick Henry... pero en vez de gritar “Vienen los británicos” va ser “viene la migra”!
Hoy no fue mi día. Aparte de esas noticias, cuando me estaba alegrando qué mi comida era vegetariana lo arruinan y me insultan con pasta y carne molida (esos burros quieren decir que es carne de soya)... De cualquier maneras los quiero a los dos y no puedo esperar verlos.
Alias PájaroEnjaulado Alias Come-vegetales <3
April 4, 2014
Thursday, April 4, 2014
I’m totally losing it bro. Another one got an answer today and it was negative. Puff! We had hope that one of us got a yes. Now there are only 5 of us pending... They made up for the bad news by giving me “fresh” salad and rice with green beans and canned pineapple slices...
My second pair of eyes are all dirty and scratched, they didn’t let me keep my wipe cloth. So I’m forced to use the t-shirt. I can no longer sing “I see clearly now...” after putting them on. There’s a high probability that it will rain on Monday so tell mom to stay alert just in case...
...The forecast was announced and it turns out that it will rain Monday... If on Sunday, nothing has changed please call [redacted] so that she is aware of it.
...I don’t want to go back to suffering with fear and anxiety of what might happen if I get sent back... My heart gets torn with the thought of drowning outside of the water. Pray for me so that the officers and judges heart is touched and for me to get approved. Love you so much.
Jueves, Abril 4, 2014
Lo estoy perdiendo hermano. Otro tuvo su respuesta hoy y fue negativo. Puff! Teníamos esperanza que uno de nosotros tuviera un si... Me dieron recompensa por las malas noticias cuando me dieron ensalada “fresca” y arroz con ejotes y rebanadas de piña enlatadas...
Mi segundo par de ojos están todos sucios y rayados, ni siquiera me dejaron quedarme con mi tela para limarlos. Entonces estoy forzada a usar mi camiseta. Ya no puedo cantar “ya veo claro...” después de ponerme los. Hay una probabilidad grande de que vaya a llover el lunes entonces díganle a mamá que esté alerta por si acaso.
...El pronóstico fue anunciado y parece que va a llover el lunes...Hermana, hazme un favor. Si el [redactado] domingo nada ha cambiado, por favor llámale a [redactado] para que esté alerta. ...No quiero regresar al sufrimiento con miedo y ansiedad sobre lo que vaya a pasar si me mandan para atrás... Mi corazón se rompe con el pensamiento de ahogarme fuera del agua. Recen por mí para que los corazones de los oficiales y jueces sean tocados y para que me aprueben. Los quiero mucho.
April 8, 2014
To my lovely family...
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Well looks like I won’t make it to [redacted] birthday. I got my asylum interview denied today... A lot has happened lately, we started the hunger strike Sunday, April 6 and we made it to the second meal before we got busted by the manager of CCA. They gave us a good chat as to why not to do it and instead for us to write to ICE. But we told them thank you and that we would write to ICE but we were not backing up on the strike. That was around 2pm... We were good till an ICE supervisor [redacted] busted us for good...
Oh my Geevers! They seriously thought I was the brain behind the “Rain” but (well yeah they are right but [redacted] was also the brain) they took it so serious that once we got locked up after dinner, two officers came to ask me how I was and to ask if I ate...
Today, well today I got my bad news but they finally gave me actual soy... I did not cry for I had done that yesterday after my meltdown... My nervous tick has been present more often and now I get really bad headaches... I love you all so super much! Tons of besos
#Jailbird #illegalLife #thisLoser #NoInternet #WTFudge #NoPaperNotAfraid #asIf #NoPapersSuperAfraid #PuroPincheBeans #CaliCaged #LMAO
[written sideways] ...ICE wants to say they aren’t denying us because we are dreamers. This is some due process kind of shitnizzle. Puff! Grrr! #>_<
Para mi linda familia...
Martes, Abril 8, 2014
Pues parece que no voy a estar a tiempo para el cumpleaños de [redactado]. Rechazaron mi entrevista de asilo hoy... Mucho ha pasado... empezamos la huelga de hambre el domingo, Abril 6 y llegamos a la segunda comida antes de que nos descubriera el director de CCA. Nos dieron una buena charla de porque no hacerlo y que mejor le escribiéramos a ICE. Le dijimos gracias y que le escribiríamos a ICE pero que no detendremos la huelga... Estábamos bien hasta que el supervisor de ICE [redactado] nos descubrió de veras y me llamó hablar a solas. Me dijo sobre los riesgos... Le dije que lo pensaríamos pero que yo no podría tomar esa decisión sola... Después él habló con las chicas del grupo. Nos pusimos de acuerdo en comer y lo hicimos 20 minutos después de hablar con él porque... nos contestó muchas preguntas y nos dijo algunas opciones en caso de que nos rechacen...
Dios mio! En serio pensaban que yo era el cerebro detrás de la “Lluvia” pero (pues si tienen razón pero también [redactado] era el cerebro) lo tomaron tan en serio que después de que nos encerraron dos oficiales vinieron a preguntarme si había comido...
Hoy, pues hoy recibí mis malas noticias, pero por fin me dieron soya de verdad... No llore porque ya lo había hecho ayer después de mi crisis emocional... Mi tic nervioso ha estado más presente y ahora tengo dolores de cabeza fuertes...¡Los quiero muchísimo! Un montón de besos
#PájaroEnjaulado #VidaIllegal #EstaPerdedora #SinInternet #QueJodidos #SinPapelesSinMiedo #comoSiFuera #SinPapelesMuchoMiedo #PuroPincheFrijoles #CaliEnjaulada #LMAO
[escrito de lado] ...ICE quiere decir que no nos están rechazando por ser dreamers. Esto es una babosada de proceso debido. Puff! Grrr! #>_<
6. See the performance component
In December 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sin Huellas members installed DETENTION NATION at Elgin Street Studios. In the space created, an ensemble of performers created the following Performance GIFs.
"Watching All Day"
"Edges and Corners"
The videos and images in this installation space are based on letters and stories gathered from the immigrant prisons listed below. Some hold both men and women.
Otay Mesa Detention Center
7488 Cazada De La Fuente
San Diego, CA 92143
Operated by CoreCivic
La Salle Detention Facility
830 Pinehill Rd
Jena, LA 71342
Operated by GEO
Irwin County Detention Center
132 Cotton Dr
Ocilla, GA 31774
Operated by LaSalle Corrections