This mixed media installation’s title comes from a fragment of “detention bed mandate,” a policy, annually renewed since 2009, requiring Immigrations and Customs Enforcement arm to keep 34,000 beds filled with immigrant detainees every night. Largely in county jails or privately run prisons, the mandate is symptomatic of current US immigration policies that routinely lead to human rights violations of the families and children caught in its system. The random and absolute quota of 34,000 beds foregrounds long-term shifts in US immigration policies in a post-9/11 political landscape, where rising xenophobia and for-profit prison privatization combine to incentivize indefinite detention.
Fulfilling the mandate requires punitive, exorbitant immigrant detentions that benefit private prison corporations the most, and give individual lives the least consideration. The system enforces indefinite detention of unaccompanied children, forecloses humane and less expensive alternatives to detention, and overlooks prisoner abuse, neglect, and lack of health care, which has resulted in over 100 in-custody deaths over the past 10 years.
The repeated silkscreen images of prison beds are combined with documents, reports, graphics, and personal narratives featured in this selection of binders from the Index archive. Taken together, they expand on the unsettling legal mandates and policing protocols that underpin US immigration policies as well as their devastating effects.