Julie Wilensky


In the wake of stringent 1996 federal immigration laws and post-9/11

terrorism concerns, the number of immigrants held in administrative

detention in the U.S. has increased at an alarming rate. The Bureau of

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (formerly the Immigration and

Naturalization Service) currently detains around 200,000 noncitizens each

year, and the federal government plans to expand the number of detention

beds by 40,000 in the next five years.1 Some detainees are held in agency

centers, but most are held in public and private corrections facilities

alongside criminals serving sentences.2 Mark Dow documents this lucrative

and expanding system of immigration detention in American Gulag: Inside

U.S. Immigration Prisons. Drawing on ten years of research and interviews

with detainees, advocates, immigration officials, government bureaucrats,

and prison personnel, Dow provides a compelling account of the

arbitrariness, secrecy, and abuse that pervades the U.S. immigration

detention system.