Profiting From Immigration Injustice
By Max Blumenthal
When an architect named Norman Pfeiffer designed the Evo DeConcini Federal Courthouse in Tucson, Ariz., he claimed to have been inspired by its natural surroundings. “From afar,” Pfeiffer told Architecture Week, “the desert tells little of what it knows. … But upon closer scrutiny it reveals its true self.”
The 413,000-square-foot, $67.3 million monolith that Pfeiffer erected blends easily with the pale desert landscape flanking downtown Tucson. The earth-toned structure appears so bland a casual passer-by might not even take a second glance. Only a few observers have ventured inside to witness the spectacle that takes place on the third floor.
The show begins each day at 1 p.m., when about 75 undocumented immigrants just captured along the U.S.-Mexico border are marched into the room in leg irons and manacles and compelled all at once to plead guilty to entering the country illegally. Although the proceeding has the trappings of a trial, the defendants never challenge the charges against them, and are clearly discouraged from doing so. They know their fate is preordained: deportation to a border town, separation from their families and occasionally a few months in a privatized prison.