Francisco Cantú

DETAINED: Voices from the Migrant Incarceration System is a collaboration between the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project (FIRRP), Salvavision, and previously detained individuals to collect and publicly archive the stories of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants incarcerated by immigration authorities in Arizona. FIRRP is the only organization dedicated to providing free legal services to immigrant detainees in Arizona and is therefore a key partner for the creation and dissemination of the DETAINED archive. FIRRP and university staff and graduate students work collaboratively with former detainees to document their experience in detention through a combination of multilingual written, visual, and audio forms. Detainee testimonials are archived alongside correspondence, art, and digital storytelling that contextualizes the growth of the migrant detention industry, presenting a synthesis of the personal and political repercussions of modern-day internment. Ultimately, we aim to broaden the national and international understanding of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands through the digital publication of DETAINED. The archive is a counter-memorial and tangible record of the vast emergent landscape of for-profit immigrant detention that will resonate far beyond academic and scholarly audiences, fostering public engagement with the marginalized voices at the center of the immigrant detention industry.

DETAINED: Voices from the Migrant Incarceration System
Screenshot from the DETAINED website showing a drawing of a cell block, with text about the oral history archival project below it and thumbnails with titles of narratives of asylum seekers formerly incarcerated in the state of Arizona.
Go to full website: detained.digitalscholarship.library.arizona.edu
A voiceover with voices of people held by ICE in private detention centers bearing withess to their inhuman treatment there accompanies footage of these for-profit private facilities and the architecture of their inhumanity. Slowly circling aerial shots show a sprawling, severe complex of white industrial buildings surrounded by barbed wire within an empty field, and the people detained within walking down the straight path in the yard in a row. The tree-lined staff parking lot outside the complex shows cars parked spaciously, free to leave. Text about these companies' huge profits alternate with these images.

Video concept and production by David Taylor Audio from interviews with Carmen, Mary, Alonso, José, Alejandro, Gabriela, and Javier Interviews conducted by Francisco Cantú, Daniel Hernandez, and David Taylor Translations by Francisco Cantú and David Taylor

COMPLEX: A Visual Index of the Immigrant Detention Industry
Video, 13:14