The Logistics of Detention


  • Stephen Ramos University of Georgia College of Environment and Design, Urban Planning and Design



At the intersection of logistics and migration, I focus on US for-profit immigrant detention centres as nodes within global capital flows. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centres process humans through transnational, encoded power systems, which couple tightly to the logics, infrastructure, and public-private strategies that comprise the international logistics industry. Migrants move from the country of origin to the US as itinerant labour, and as bodies to meet detention-centre quotas, forming patterns where chain migration is transformed into supply chain. The immigration detention system is an industrialisation of humans, and its administration processes are intersectoral and vertically integrated. I use the southeastern US logistics hub of Georgia, and its capital Atlanta, to illustrate the intersection of logistics and immigration detention systems. I demonstrate how the immigrant detention systems’ scale and its architecture – its spatial contours and manifestations – mirror those systems of international supply chain coordination, assembly, transport, and sale.

Author Biography

Stephen Ramos, University of Georgia College of Environment and Design, Urban Planning and Design

Stephen J. Ramos is an Associate Professor in Urban Planning and Design at the University of Georgia College of Environment and Design. He is author of Dubai Amplified: The Engineering of a Port Geography (Ashgate, 2010), and co-editor of Infrastructure Sustainability and Design (Routledge 2012). He is a founding editor of the journal New Geographies, and editor-in- chief of New Geographies Volume 1: After Zero (Harvard University Press, 2009). His writing has appeared in the Harvard Design Magazine, Volume, Journal for Transport Geography, Planning Perspectives, and Journal of Urban History. Stephen holds a Doctor of Design degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. His professional practice includes work with the Fundación Metrópoli in Madrid, the International Society of City and Regional Planners in The Hague, and NGO work throughout Latin America.


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