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Immigration and the Carceral State

Episode 102: Featuring Carl Lindskoog

The Nostalgia Trap podcast, hosted by David Parsons and produced by Peter Sabatino, features weekly conversations about history and politics with some of the left’s most incisive thinkers, writers, and extremely online personalities, exploring how individual lives intersect with the big events and debates of our era.

Carl Lindskoog is a historian of immigration, race, and rebellion whose forthcoming book Detain and Punish: Haitian Refugees and the Rise of the World’s Largest Immigration Detention System locates the roots of America’s current immigration policies in the history of U.S.-Haiti relations over the past several decades. His latest piece reminds us that horrific practices like child detention are sadly nothing new, explaining how the U.S. government’s response to an influx of Haitian refugees in the 1990s created the template for the harsh, punitive immigration system that exists today. In this conversation, Lindskoog tells the extraordinary story of Haitian children rising up against their American captors at a detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, and discusses how the history of resistance to the U.S. immigration system is part of the wider movement to confront the brutality of the American carceral state:

It’s always the two sides, repression and resistance. Long before it’s Guantanamo detainees or immigrant detainees in the United States doing hunger strikes and resisting and organizing inside—which they’re doing right now and we’ve been hearing about for the past several years—in the 1970s Haitian women in a prison in West Virginia have a hunger strike . . . so this is a big part of the movement for refugee and immigrant rights that’s been going a for a long time.

And this is where I see the Haitian story as connected to the [work of] Heather Ann Thompson and other people who are documenting prisoner resistance and resistance inside, because just as incarcerated people have always fought for their freedom, so have incarcerated people who are immigrants . . . and that needs to be part of the story too.

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