The Importance of Community Contexts in Immigration Detention
Immigration detention facilities are commonly assumed to be insulated microcosms that maintain their existence separate and apart from the surrounding communities. Yet, detention facilities are not hermetically sealed institutions. Drawing on unique and comprehensive data pertaining to all individuals held in immigration detention in the United States in fiscal year 2015, this study explores for the first time the importance of community contexts in immigration detention. Our multivariate analyses show a significant relationship between the characteristics of communities in which the facilities are located and detention length for individuals who were released pending the completion of their removal proceedings. Specifically, we find that the presence of legal service providers and social support networks in the communities is associated with shorter detention length, controlling for a variety of individual characteristics and contextual factors. These findings highlight the need for research on the social ecology of immigration detention-research that moves beyond the walls of detention facilities to consider the broader legal, social, and political contexts of surrounding communities in investigating the nature and consequences of immigration detention.
Emily Ryo is an associate professor of law and sociology at the USC Gould School of Law. She received a JD from Harvard Law School and a PhD in Sociology from Stanford University. Immediately prior to joining USC, she was a research fellow at Stanford Law School. She served as a law clerk to the Honorable M. Margaret McKeown of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and practiced law at the international law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen, and Hamilton.
Her current research focuses on immigration, criminal justice, legal attitudes and legal noncompliance, and procedural justice. She approaches these issues through innovative interdisciplinary lenses, using diverse quantitative and qualitative methods. As an empirical legal scholar, she has published widely in both leading sociology and law journals. She has been awarded the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Fellowship to support her scholarship.