Detained and Deported


Starred review in Publishers Weekly:

Twenty million immigrants entered the United States, both legally and illegally, between 1990 and 2010. As Regan (The Death of Josseline), passionately and eloquently argues, the related increase in detainment and deportation has been treated as a business opportunity, leading to grievous mistreatment. In this well-documented study, Regan recounts the stories of undocumented immigrants, focusing on those in Arizona. According to the book, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) has, in the course of deporting hundreds of thousands of people yearly, separated families and forced American-born children with loving parents into the foster system, charged immigrants with overly serious felonies, and allowed abusive conditions to foster in detainment centers. Moreover, deportees often wind up in unfamiliar, even dangerous circumstances when they leave the U.S. Regan is a skilled interviewer, making the stories included here intimate and heartbreaking. She critically examines the failure of U.S. immigration policies while also highlighting efforts to help, both from individuals and nonprofit organizations. For those who have been looking for an authentic look at people caught between borders, this is it.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A timely look at the inhumane effects of immigration policies in the United States. Tucson Weekly columnist Regan, who told harrowing tales of immigrants trying to cross from Mexico into Arizona in her previous book, The Death of Josseline (2010), here turns to the treatment of undocumented immigrants who succeeded in making it across the border. As before, the author relates individuals’ specific experiences while revealing the policies and the institutions that impact their lives and determine their fates. She is deeply sympathetic to the plight of undocumented workers caught in a system that profits from their incarceration and treats them with indifference at best and inhumanity at worst. The first portion of the book focuses on detention, the next on deportation and the last on resistance to the system. While the author writes of outrageous conditions, this book is not a rant. The facts she straightforwardly presents inform readers of the harsh, prisonlike conditions at detention centers operated by the for-profit Corrections Corporation of America, specifically ones at Eloy and Florence, Arizona. It comes as no surprise to learn that the Eloy center has the nation’s highest rate of inmate deaths due to suicide or medical neglect. Regan also reveals the anguish of parents abruptly separated from their children—legal citizens of the United States—and deported to Mexico, where they have not lived in years and have no ties. The book’s few bright spots include accounts of pro bono lawyers trying to untangle the web of immigration laws and of volunteer groups like Casa Mariposa, which provides food and shelter to newly liberated detainees dumped by authorities at Tucson’s isolated bus station. Together, Regan’s books bring into focus the fates of undocumented people fighting against the odds to make it into America and then, if they get here, struggling, and often failing, to build a life.

From Booklist:

“Not for nothing was Eloy named for Jesus’s cry of despair,” journalist Regan writes in this scathing review of current detention and deportation practices involving undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Beginning with the Eloy Detention Center, operated by the for-profit Corrections Corporation of America, Regan gives detailed accounts of the inhumane conditions, inadequate care, and unjust treatment detainees receive at the hands of hostile staff and predatory prosecutors.

Take the case of Yolanda, who tried to escape an abusive relationship, then was forced into sex slavery, only to get arrested and charged with running a prostitution ring. It took the intervention of several lawyers and two years of appeals for Yolanda, separated from her three children, to receive a T visa, given to victims of human trafficking.Together with other horrifying case studies, Regan provides discomfiting statistics to document the rise of the detention-industrial complex. (In 1995, the Eloy facility held only 395 bunks. By 2014, it had 1,596.)

This important work should be read together with Regan’s previous exposé, The Death of Josseline (2010).

— Diego Báez

From Shelf Awareness:

Twenty million immigrants arrived in the United States between 1990 and 2010, in an ongoing wave of immigration comparable to the peak years of Ellis Island. In response, there has been a historically similar rise in anti-immigrant sentiment and border control legislation. In Detained and Deported: Stories of Immigrant Families Under Fire, Arizona journalist Margaret Regan (The Death of Josseline) reports on the enormous and growing border and immigration enforcement system, through the personal experiences of immigrants from Central and South America and of their family members, employers, friends and advocates.

Regan states that at the beginning of the 21st century, immigrants are more likely to have lived and worked in the U.S. for many years and, if the parents are deported, to have young children placed in foster care or adopted. With their roots and close family in the U.S. rather than in their legal country of origin, deportees are willing to take extreme risks to return. Regan is a persistent and sensitive interviewer, and her long experience reporting on these issues deeply informs her narrative as she investigates detention centers, courts, shelters and late-night bus stations, interviewing a variety of immigrants, pro bono lawyers, community volunteers and Mexican repatriation workers. She makes a strong argument that, as of 2015, the immigrant detention system is not only inhumane but also corrupt and ineffective: a gold mine for private contractors, a waste of millions in taxpayer dollars and destructive to families in ways that seem likely to breed future social and economic costs. –Sara Catterall
Discover: An intimate examination of the human and economic costs of the corrupt and inhumane U.S. immigration enforcement system.

From the Arizona Daily Star:

Tucson journalist Margaret Regan puts a human face on the plight of the undocumented in this riveting account of human suffering on our doorstep. Regan, who writes for the Tucson Weekly, relates the stories of the real people behind the government statistics and describes in heartbreaking detail what it looks like when you lose it all. Splintered families, lost livelihoods, children swallowed up in the CPS maze, and ineffectual government agencies working at cross purposes are common themes, but perhaps most disturbing is the fact that incarceration is a growth industry in the Southwest. The greater the number of detainees in detention centers, the fatter the profits of the privately-owned prisons housing them. Their prosperity comes at a price measured in anguish, and Regan posits that it’s a price we should not pay.

— Helene Woodhams

Praise for The Death of Josseline

“This book should be required reading for everyone–from President Obama and the director of Homeland Security to the border patrol agents, the vigilantes, and migrant rights activists. If people on both sides of the immigration issue picked up this book instead of arms, we would come to a peaceful resolution; it gave me inspiration.”

–Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street

“Most border ‘experts’ and immigration writers are mere tourists. This writer is not one of them. In Margaret Regan’s The Death of Josseline, you have a writer who lives the story, reports from the heart of the killzone, and works the territory on a regular basis. The many admirers of Enrique’s Journey will find much to admire, and fear, in this powerful report.”

–Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil’s Highway: A True Story


“There may be no better way to understand the muddle that is U.S. immigration policy than by reading these portraits of people who cross the border in hopes of a better life.”

Ted Robbins, NPR


“The Death of Josseline by Margaret Regan is a humane, sensitive, and informative perspective on a current and controversial topic. It also testifies to the fastest growing international criminal activity today: body trafficking. We all must pay attention.”

–Ana Castillo, author of The Guardians

“The Death of Josseline is a border reality check. It tells searing stories of those who’ve died crossing the Sonora/​Arizona desert, of young people sent to prison in Tucson for the crime of working, and of the courageous people of conscience who stand up for the rights of migrants. Read it, and see why our deadly immigration policies need to be changed.”

–David Bacon, author of Illegal People

“In The Death of Josseline, Margaret Regan stands midpoint between immigration’s push and pull…her clear and sympathetic eyes watching the south on its treacherous slog north.”

– Tom Miller, author of “On the Border”

“I’ve been reading Margaret’s work for close to two decades now. She’s blessed with a sharp eye, a good heart and spine of steel. Her border stories have captured the complexity and heartache that runs so deeply in our borderlands. Would that we had more of her in the biz.”

— Jim Nintzel, Tucson Weekly