Susan Terrio, Professor of Anthropology at Georgetown University and author of the recently released Whose Child Am I?: Unaccompanied, Undocumented Children in U.S. Immigration Custody, appeared on WAMU 88.5 American University Radio. In her book, Terrio delves deeper into the workings of this vast, yet rarely explored system: “What were their motivations for leaving their home country? What happened to them on the journey? What happened to them crossing the border? Who did they belong to? What were their family stories? And who has the ultimate responsibility for them?”
To the full interview and read the full text of the article, follow the link to WAMU 88.5’s website.
Terrio, speaking with WAMU’s Armando Trull, says of the closed, prison-like organization of these detention centers:
“[The facilities] are institutionalized settings that are organized by security level on a penal model. There are controlled entry and exits, there is monitored movement within the premises, there are stipulated line of sight checks, there is camera surveillance, there is constant supervision.”
“And once the kids go into these facilities, they don’t leave except for appearances in court proceedings and occasional mental and medical health appointments outside. That means that they go to school inside, they play sports within fenced areas. To insist that this system, because it involves civil violations in an administrative court proceeding is not incarceration I think is a fiction that can no longer be sustained.”
Concluding, Terrio argues, “… there is no humane way to incarcerate families and children. It should not be a first response; it should be a last resort.”