Detained Beyond the Sovereign: Conceptualising Non-State Actor Involvement in Immigration Detention

Immigration-related detention is today a global phenomenon that involves an array of social actors that are not directly part of the state. In some countries, private companies operate as de facto detaining authorities and oversee the entire immigration detention estate. In conflict zones, militias and rebel groups have taken over migrant detention centers, performing the same functions as the state but without any legal oversight or official sanction. In the Gulf, legal systems effectively place foreign domestic workers at the mercy of their employers, who often confine their employees in their homes for the duration of their contracts. In many countries across the globe, nonprofit humanitarian groups operate detention centers or fulfill basic functions within these facilities, raising questions about the extent to which their work reinforces the logic of detention policies. And international organizations have assisted in training detention personnel and provided a range services in detention centers. This chapter, published in the volume Intimate Economies of Immigration Detention (Routledge 2016, eds. Conlon and Hiemstra),  proposes an analytical framework that can assist critical assessment of the evolution of immigration detention and the impact that growing non-state involvement in this practice has on the rights of migrants and asylum seekers.