Luis, a queer-identified 19-year-old boy from El Salvador, is in Otay Mesa Detention Center and writes letters with Kate Swanson of Detainee Allies. Kate is born and raised in southern Ontario, Canada, and is a professor of urban geography with a focus on social and environmental issues. She is a core member of Detainee Allies and has been involved since the beginning of the organization. The interview cover topics such as discrimination, the process of writing letters, the conditions of the detention center, and family. I met Kate at a regular meeting for Detainee Allies volunteers. My name is Saul Miranda Cardenas, a senior atRead More →

This project was conducted for the Race and Oral History Course at UCSD in the Spring of 2019. This post is a reflection on the limits of oral history and ways to overcome them through an engagement with the letter. The letter I chose was written by a Mexican mother to Detainee Allies.. She is 37 years and had been living in San Diego for 19 years before being detained. In this post, you will find a reflection on how to rethink oral history thanks to an artifact. I will provide a personal analysis of the letter, highlighting sections that articulate the following themes: endless violence, militarized border, family, vulnerability and confinement. The goal of this project is to amplify the voice of one detainee confined at Otay Mesa Detention Center. Closed from the outside world and deprived of face-to-face interactions, detainees have resorted to letter writing to speak out and to convey their humanity. Reading their letters creates a form of encounter that approximates an oral history interview. Read More →

Kate Swanson, born and raised in southern Ontario, Canada, is a professor of urban geography with a focus on social and environmental issues. She is a core member of Detainee Allies, and has been involved since the beginning of the organization. The letters cover topics such as  discrimination, the journey to the United States, detention conditions, and family. I met Kate at a Detainee Allies Monday meeting. This audio recording was done on UCSD Campus. My name is Saul Miranda Cardenas, a senior at UCSD majoring in International Studies – Political Science. I am enrolled in Race & Oral History of San Diego.Read More →

Luis, a queer identified 19 year old boy from El Salvador, who came during the caravan of 2018. He is in Otay Mesa detention center and writes letters Detainee Allies. In the two letters I engage Luis  answers questions that he received from DetaineeAllies, I received these letters from Kate Swanson, who will be introduced in the second part of my project. Kate Swanson, born and raised in southern Ontario, Canada, is a professor of urban geography with a focus on social and environmental issues. She is a core member of Detainee Allies, and has been involved since the beginning of the organization. The interviewRead More →

A collection of letters written by Venezuelan detained migrants covering the topics of their life in Venezuela, conflict, their detained experience, and their collaboration with Detainee Allies. These letters were written by six people whose identities are kept anonymous, known only by their initials: E. L., S. G., A. R., M. W., and M. R. These writers come from diverse backgrounds, but share similar experiences throughout their journey, fleeing from many called the worst humanitarian, economic, and political crisis in Venezuela. Due to the sensitivity of their detained situation, not much is known of them other than what is written. With rising corruption and resistanceRead More →

Ivette Lorona, a second-year graduate student at San Diego State University studying Public Health and Latin American Studies, is the head intern coordinator for Detainee Allies, a grassroots organization that writes letters to detained migrants and asylum-seekers. Ivette’s academic work focuses on health promotion and behavioral science, and she is particularly interested in the health outcomes of people who live in Tijuana and cross the U.S. border to work and/or go to school in San Diego. This interview covers a range of topics, such as: immigration, detention centers and the conditions of those inside, letter writing, and community. What I found most intriguing during thisRead More →

    For this Oral History Interview, I talked with Jennifer Gonzalez, one of the lead organizers for Detainee Allies. Jennifer has had an interesting and varied life, arriving by roundabout from practicing law to engaging in social work advocating on behalf of asylum seekers and now those detained in Otay Mesa. Jennifer went from Stanford Law to immigrant rights work in North Carolina, solidifying her decision to use the law as a tool to help the most marginalized in the American legal system. We both connected over our mutual understanding that direct action, in particular the development and circulation of repressed narratives to affect systemic change.Read More →

transcript here Kate Swanson, originally from Canada, is a professor of human geography at San Diego State University. Her work specifically focuses on youth migration in Latin American and at the U.S.-Mexico Border. As a member of Detainee Allies, Kate works firsthand with letters the group receives from detained refugees from the Otay Mesa detention center and Etowah County Jail. In this interview, Kate talks about the work Detainee Allies does, the conditions refugees face in detention centers, and the importance of community organizing. I am currently a second year undergraduate at  the University of California, San Diego, majoring in Ethnic Studies and History. ThisRead More →

A collection of letters written by Venezuelan detained migrants covering the topics of their life in Venezuela, conflict, their detained experience, and their collaboration with Detainee Allies. These letters were written by six people whose identities are kept anonymous, known only by their initials: E. L., S. G., A. R., M. W., and M. R. With rising corruption and resistance throughout Venezuela caused by various political and economic factors, these letters portray the injustices they fled, only to be met by another at the US-MX border. Many recall what is considered the ‘worst humanitarian crisis in the history of Venezuela,’ telling of physical abuse, foodRead More →