Unit 2 Destination Discussion - Arizona/Mexico

Advance Reading: Members of the group should read Chapters Three and Four of Undocumented by Aviva Chomsky.


The “coyotes” are only one of the perils migrants face as they seek to travel across Mexico to the border; Chomsky describes many others in these chapters, including narco- traffickers, criminal networks that kidnap and torture migrants for ransom, and law enforcement officials who collaborate with both.

  • Were there elements in the reading this week that surprised you? Are there new questions arising from the reading?
  • Does your own family have an immigration story passed down from past generations? From what you know of that story, were your ancestors “legal” immigrants by today’s standards?
  • One of the images we hold at the core of our faith is that of the interdependent web, of which we are all a part. It’s a lovely image, when we consider its strands linking us to all the beauty of our world; it can be a deeply troubling image, when we consider the harder truth that it also links us to the suffering of our world. What does consideration of that sacred web evoke for you, in the context of what you’ve learned this week?

Please have someone from your group read aloud the following quotation from this unit’s reading:

“Immigration court is a separate entity from the criminal justice system; it is an administrative court. This means that the whole body of law designed to protect those accused of crimes and guarantee them a fair trial does not apply. […] In the immigration detention system, prisoners have few rights and often lack the means to find out what rights they do have or make use of these rights. For example, immigrants have the right to be represented by an attorney, but not at public expense. Many detainees don’t know that they have the right to representation, don’t know how to obtain representation, and/or can’t afford it. For those who do go through deportation hearings, 84 percent lack representation.”

  • What are the implications of these chapters for human rights in America, including the right to a fair trial?
  • Did this passage and the rest of the material for this unit change your understanding of the American justice system?
  • Do you think there is an inherent danger in privatizing prisons and detention facilities? What conflicts of interest are or could be involved in privatization?


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