The fight to end migrant child detention.
Little Village Solidarity Network (LVSN) has been fighting to expose and dismantle a system of detention known as “shelters” for Unaccompanied Alien Children. This is a network of over 100 secretive detention facilities operated by nonprofit agencies. Hundreds of thousands of children have been detained, put under prosecution for immigration violations and then shipped to these sites around the country – nine of which operate in Chicago. Branded as an alternative to the larger prison camps, this “nicer” form of detention has been a crucial and growing sector of the US government’s detention apparatus. This remains largely unchallenged because the social service agencies that run them – multi-million dollar NGO’s with political influence and crony friends – have monopolized the discourse around the detention of migrant children. It is OK for us to detain kids, they say, because we do it under improved conditions and we offer services inside the lock-ups.
LVSN have tracked the colossal levels of bullshit involved in setting up, defending and normalizing this kind of detention. We have worked hard to expose the liberal logics of white saviorism that makes this the contemporary face of a deeper, colonial logic that has always targeted the bodies of black and brown children for “rescue” by the white nation. We have investigated and exposed the ways the NGOs profit from the bodies of these children, the conditions faced by the young children while detained, and the horrific afterlifes of this kind of detention. We are fighting to dismantle the whole thing, including the facilities run by Heartland Alliance and the Catholic Archdiocese here in Chicago. We were able to force Heartland to close down two of their centers, but now the Catholic Archdiocese is expanding with a new kidprison in the Lakeview neighborhood, at St Alphonse.
LVSN has put together information about the struggle, our research and our goals, you can find them on our fb page.
Here we share our principles of affiliation which describe the ways we are committing to struggling alongside other groups.
I. Border abolition, migrant liberation and the total decriminalization of migration
Our goal is the total decriminalization of migration, from an anticolonial perspective. We center the detention of children because historically the rebranding of child detention as “shelter” and “care” has served to justify and normalize increased state repression and to further criminalize indigenous and migrant communities as well as poor people of color.
Historically, the logic of “rescuing” Black and Brown children has been a key mechanism of colonial oppression. Over the past 25 years we have seen the emergence of a “kinder” form of detention known as “shelters” for Unaccompanied Alien Children operated by nonprofits. This has NOT proven to be an alternative to detention and prison camps; instead it has served as a foil for the expansion and deepening of the state’s carceral logic, and is a key growth sector for the PIC and detention apparatus. Without Heartland, there could be no Tornillos. Without the NGO-run “shelters”, there could be no prison camps.
II. Autonomy and direct action
Networks, not coalitions – liberation struggles not social justice advocacy! We look to decentralization, autonomy and mutual support in engaging with other groups, communities and collectives, with an emphasis on selforganized grassroots groups that are nonhierarchical in their organization.
We are committed to using a diversity of tactics, uplifting different ways that communities struggle, while refusing to throw anyone under the bus by exposing, isolating or denouncing antagonistic tactics.
We are committed to principles of direct action, building political power at the community level for direct participation and self-determination; this means a refusal to turn our struggles over to NGOs, movement managers and an electoral political machine that have created the very logic we are opposing and therefore will only betray us in the end.
We are committed to disrupting the operations of the detention and migration enforcement apparatus; because our focus is on liberal “humanitarian” forms of incarceration, we must therefore also disrupt the logics of liberal white saviorism that such structures both emerge from and reinforce.
III. Community self-defense
We are committed to community self-defense against repression, infiltration, cooptation and the constant threat of being sold out to political parties, mainstream media, NGO’s, professional movement managers, individual self-interest, careerism, etc.
No engagement with law enforcement (no permitting etc).
No engagement with organizations that profit from detention, including social service agencies and nonprofits.
No racist, classist, sexist/mysoginist, xenophobic, transphobic, ableist shit.
Little Village Solidarity Network/Red de Solidaridad de la Villita