Abstract

This article traces the contours of immigrant detention along the US-Mexico border between 1903 and 1917. Underfunded and undersized, privately owned but federally managed immigration stations and detention facilities forced government agencies to consider where to hold an increasing number of detained immigrant women. While debate arose over which detention location allowed the most “freedom,” some women suffered verbal, physical, and sexual abuse during their incarceration. This article draws upon US Bureau of Immigration annual and investigative reports, testimony, leasing agreements, and correspondence to argue that gender was a driving force in the construction of detention rooms and facilities along the border after 1903.

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