Nate Dorr | 2020 | 9 min
Despite New York's status as a sanctuary city, ICE facilities ring and infiltrate the boroughs while its agents continue to make hundreds of arrests every month. We know this, especially when high-profile abuses are reported, but ICE presence here typically goes unseen and unremarked on. Sanctuary highlights this troubling disjunction, and the millions of people threatened by it, through a pointed act of looking at the architectural apparatuses of detention and deportation. As long as ICE persists, there is no true sanctuary.
New York State remains fourth in the country in annual deportation proceedings after Texas, California, and Florida. Across twelve short chapters ranging from the outer rim of Queens to Hackensack, New Jersey, Sanctuary visits detention sites, prisons, offices, and courthouses -- all the locations through which ICE maintains its operations in downstate New York. In each chapter, brief narration condenses extensive research into government reporting, Freedom of Information Act retrievals, and investigative journalism, over manipulated photographs of the buildings themselves. Many of these interventions attempt visually -- through fragmentation, redaction, distortion, or even the blurring by which some of these sites are obscured in street view apps -- to do what is more difficult in actuality: the destruction and removal of ICE itself from the landscape.