Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
When I dream, I often find myself wandering the hallways and rooms of my grandparents’ house in Dilley, Texas. I have lived many places since my family moved from Dilley when I was 3-years-old, but that mid-century style ranch has always seemed like home and Dilley my warm and welcoming hometown. As of 2014, I share that hometown with the largest Immigration and Customs Enforcement center in the United States. The South Texas Family Residential Center has a capacity of 2,400 and is managed by the private prison corporation, CoreCivic. In its four-year operation, it has been the first US residence for thousands of detained women and children, a cold, confining stop between where they are from and where they want to be. This paper introduces a study on the social and economic impact of the detention center in the town of Dilley, TX. In this study, I ask how does this center fit into the history of domestic and international economic-migration in the town, who is profiting from the center, and how do local residents and organizations respond to the presence of the center? I will answer these questions through an autoethnographic study of my family’s history in the town as it parallels its history of migration, through an examination of local socioeconomic data with a particular interest in the way census-taking policy and practices affect these records, and through participant observation working with local immigration services and activist groups.