On Detention and Skill: Reflections on Immigrant Incarceration, Bodying Practices, and the Definition of Skill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The use of detention as a tool of immigrant enforcement has grown in the United States and around the world. In this article, I examine the practices used to structure the physical detention of immigrants and explore the role that carceral immigrant control plays as a form of labor market governance. I argue that the same security and detention practices that equate being out of status with criminality are also used to tag immigrants as unskilled. Through the delineation of skill categories, which are vested with certain political rights, I posit that this carceral enforcement of skill categories shapes how immigrants are able to navigate the labor market, with particular attention to the implications for recipients of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) protections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1370-1388
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019



  • DACA
  • detention
  • immigrant incarceration
  • immigration enforcement
  • labor market skills

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)

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