Daily Immigration News – Yasrebi Law

Silky Shah's Unbuild Walls: Why Immigrant Justice Needs Abolition is a powerful, critical look into the U.S. immigration system—one with deep, explicit ties to the prison-industrial complex. Shah argues that in the past four decades, immigration enforcement and mass incarceration have coiled together into systems of repression. A critique of Republican and Democratic administrations for furthering the carceral narrative—criminalizing poor people of color—is that much stronger because of it. What that makes her call for—a comprehensive abolitionist approach and not reform that merely makes detention facilities more humane—is the immediate abolition of these systems of oppression.

Shah shines a light on bipartisan complicity in extending anti-immigrant policies. She writes about that spiral and the increase in repression through post-9/11 xenophobia, the record-level deportations under the Obama administration, and Trump administration policies. Activists often work within a framework that separates immigrants into the good and the bad, with a binary Shah notes is at best deeply flawed, and at worst, dangerous. According to Shah, instead of fighting for more humane detention centers or piecemeal immigration reform, there is no justice but the abolition of immigration detention and the broader carceral state.

The book synthesizes histories, legal critiques, and personal stories from Shah's twenty-year-long career as an activist. More specifically, she says these are stories of the fight against immigrant jail implementation and construction at the U.S.-Mexico border, and with the Detention Watch Network. It gives deep accounts as to how these systems of control have been used to target communities of color and immigrants, further intensifying social and economic inequalities. In arguing that the root causes of inequality and injustice must be addressed in order to replace punitive measures with abolition, Shah speaks to an impact framework.

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