The LEAP Center prides itself on its interdisciplinary learning, and our latest book discussion was a good example: Cesar Hernandez visited Brazos Bookstore to discuss “Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants.”
By the time the talk began, it was full to the point that some fans had to stand in the back. ]Hernandez is a prominent attorney and professor of law at the University of Denver, and he is a strong advocate for not only allowing more immigrants into the US, but also going several steps further: (1) freeing all immigrants currently in prison, and (2) providing them with attorneys, and (3) social workers.
His book talk was enriching. He spoke of private prisons being built in remote places such as Eloy, Arizona. These prisons are under loose supervision and have a tendency to keep prisoners – often immigrants – in poor conditions. He was appalled by the idea that these people were kept in deplorable environments for the sole reason that they entered a country seeking a better life.
Although he was born in America, Hernandez told the story of a close friend he had back in Mexico who did not go to college after high school and instead chose to work. Once work became slow, he could no longer provide for his family. As a result, he attempted to cross the border but was caught and arrested by immigration officers. This led to him being incarcerated in prison for over 2 years.
After the talk, many fans in the audience had questions. One asked what could be done to change the view that people have on immigrants. Hernandez answered that, although it will be a slow process, voting progressive people into office will have long-term affects that will eventually lead to the eradication of private prisons – a personal desire for him. He argued that we should strive for change to end the inhumane stigma that we have on illegal immigrants.
Upon leaving, the three of us quickly came to the realization that, although our brains were full, our stomachs were not. To fix this, we stopped at Common Bond Café for a quick snack and coffee. It was full of people both studying and conversing. In the center of the café was a display case rife with tasty looking treats and pastries.
I ordered a chocolate croissant, Quinn ordered a coffee, and Miranda got herself a cookie and latte. Happy with our choices yet anxious to get home and do homework, we piled back into the car and left for Huntsville.