Religion in Immigration Detention: Securing Faiths in a State of Removal

“In examining the role of religion in immigration detention, this project not only reveals the unsuspected tentacles of elite power but also the overlooked power of faith in freeing immigrants from inhumane capture and deportation. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Gregory Lee Cuellar Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary Contact Me

About this award

This project aims to examine the current role of religion in both structuring immigration detention and fostering resistance to detention in the United States and the United Kingdom. It does so by focusing on the following areas of analysis: 1) control of religion by the private corporations that run detention facilities; 2) religious activists and communities of faith resisting detention; 3) the religious views and practices of detained immigrants. Pertinent to the issue of control are the carceral logics woven into the architecture of detention chapels and the rhetorics and procedures used by private corporations to ensure a specific type of chaplain within their detention facilities. Here, the aim is to interrogate the degrees to which religion is instrumentalized by elite power to exert control over detainees in ways that advance the profit goals of the private corporations rather than their emancipation. Opposite to these forms of control is the work of religious-based activism in mobilizing public resistance to the immigration detention industrial complex. Specific to the final area of analysis is how religious beliefs and practices offer detained immigrants powerful resources for resisting the dehumanizing logic of detention and constructing a counter-discourse of emancipation.