The citizen creates the alien. The apparatus of citizenship establishes the criteria to determine who should be counted as undocumentable and therefore alien to lawful existence in this geographical territory. Detention centers extend the carceral imagination that subtends the modern state, which has claimed ownership of a particular land and has established a legal framework to criminalize and punish peoples who are categorized as threats to its vision for society. This paper tracks with Scriptural theologies that inform mechanisms of enslavement, the shadow side of citizenship. The United States is a project in social engineering, in population control, invested in registering and monitoring and relocating human life—all of which resonate with political trajectories outlined in biblical texts. The Scriptures are not salvific on their own terms. A liberative theology begins with a political commitment of solidarity. In this paper the detention center becomes a site from which to understand the carceral power that creates the world—a political landscape echoing with biblical theologies.
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