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MARGOT MOINESTER AND ASAD RAHIM, ABF Doctoral Fellows

  • When: September 13, 2017, 12 pm
  • Where: ABF Woods Conference Room, 750 N. Lake Shore Drive, 4th Floor, Lakeside, Chicago IL 60611

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Beyond the Border and into the Heartland: Spatial Patterning of U.S. Immigration Detention

The expansion of U.S. immigration enforcement from the borders into the interior of the country and the fivefold increase in immigration detentions and deportations since 1995 raise important questions about how the enforcement of immigration law is spatially patterned across American communities. Focusing on the practice of immigration detention, this study analyzes the records of all 717,160 noncitizens detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2008 and 2009—a period when interior enforcement was at its peak—to estimate states’ detention rates and examine geographic variation in detention outcomes, net of individual characteristics. Findings reveal substantial state heterogeneity in immigration detention rates, which range from an average across the two years of 450 detentions per 100,000 noncitizens in Connecticut to more than 6,700 detentions per 100,000 noncitizens in Wyoming. Once detained, individuals’ detention outcomes are highly stratified by geography, especially for detainees eligible for pretrial release. Among non-mandatorily detained undocumented Mexican men during this period, the predicted probability of receiving pretrial release varies by more than 90 percent depending on the state in which he was apprehended. These disparities indicate the critical role geography plays in shaping noncitizens’ chances of experiencing immigration detention and deportation.

Margot Moinester is a PhD candidate in Sociology at Harvard University. Her research interests encompass immigration, health inequalities, and crime and punishment. Her dissertation, entitled, “Detain and Deport: Growth and Inequality in American Immigration Enforcement,” charts the unprecedented expansion of the immigration enforcement system in the US over the past several decades and investigates how and why immigration apprehensions, detentions, and deportations vary between demographic groups and across the elaborate jurisdictional landscape of the United States. Her scholarship combines analysis of administrative data on immigration court proceedings dating back to 1951 and immigration detention records since 1999 as well as interviews with immigration attorneys, advocates, enforcement officers and judges across the country.

 Her work has appeared in the Disability Studies Quarterly, Postgenomics, and Reimagining (Bio)Medicalization, Pharmaceuticals and Genetics. Margot is a co-founder of the women’s development non-profit organization Hands of Mothers and a Doctoral Fellow in the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. She holds an MA in sociology from Harvard University as well as a BA in Health: Science, Society and Policy from Brandeis University.

Diversity as Social Control

For decades, elite, predominantly White universities have asked courts to allow race-conscious admissions policies that would help to either sustain or increase its enrollment of Black students. Universities argue that Black students bring in vital racial perspectives that enrich the education of its larger student body. My dissertation project investigates how black students themselves assess their universities’ commitment to race-based intellectual pluralism. In order to distill the norms of a particular institution from the norms of the larger disciplines that students operate within, I interview Black law and social science graduate students at both an elite, predominantly White institution (PWI) and an elite, historically Black university (HBU). Preliminary findings suggest that the majority of Black interviewees at the elite PWI perceive their departments to be uncomfortable with, and often hostile to, racial discourse. As a result, they believe that there are significant personal, professional and academic costs for a black student who publicly engages race within their institution. By contrast, graduate students within the same departments at the historically black university report feeling encouraged to explore how race operates within their fields. My findings have two potential implications: 1. The institutional norms at some elite PWIs might interfere with achieving the benefits of racial diversity, even when there exists a racially diverse student body; 2. Given that elite universities understand themselves to be grooming future leaders, black students at elite PWIs might be being groomed to be professionals who consciously limit their engagement with race. This could have significant consequences for both the individual black students within these institutions and the larger communities they are poised to represent. 

Asad Rahim is a PhD candidate in Berkeley’s Jurisprudence and Social Policy program. His dissertation entitled, “From Equality to Diversity: The Diversity Rationale and the Construction of Racial Identity,” is a rigorous and provocative examination of the ways that Black graduate students in prestigious universities experience diversity norms. His work pushes the legal justifications for diversity in higher education by comparing African American graduate students at two elite universities, including a historically Black institution. The project explores the subtle ways that these students are trained as to what kinds of questions, modes of inquiry, and views are acceptable to express – especially around issues of race. His dissertation therefore raises important questions about the role that universities play in furthering (and obstructing) intellectual pluralism and racial equality, both on their campuses and in the broader society. His work has appeared in the Annual Review of Law and Social Science.

Before attending Berkeley, Asad completed his JD at Harvard Law School. His BS in Business Administration is from Babson College where he won the Roger Babson Award, given to the top student in the graduating class. Between college and law school, Asad worked as an equity derivatives analyst for a global finance firm in Hong Kong.

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