The Border Chronicle
The Border Chronicle
Unbuild Walls: A Podcast with Silky Shah
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Unbuild Walls: A Podcast with Silky Shah

With tonight’s debate, it's the exact right time to learn more about the enforcement-prison-deportation nexus. And how Shah’s vital new book offers a vision out of this mess.
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Activists protest outside a UK immigration detention center in November 2022.(photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)

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In her classic utopian science fiction novel The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin wrote, “Those who build walls are their own prisoners. I’m going to fulfill my proper function in the social organism. I’m going to unbuild walls.” Author Silky Shah has framed an entire book around that quote, and Unbuild Walls: Why Immigrant Justice Needs Abolition couldn’t have come at a better time. As the narratives about border and immigration continue to deteriorate with the election rhetoric, especially as Joe Biden and Donald Trump face off in a debate tonight, the longtime director of the Detention Watch Network talks withThe Border Chronicle about defying this inhumane status quo.

Here, she shares her in-depth and historical knowledge about how immigration enforcement, the prison-industrial complex, and deportations function and intersect with the criminal justice system. And she offers sharp insight into the current moment, talking about the simultaneous gutting of the asylum system and the ramping up of border enforcement, and the good immigrant–versus–bad immigrant narrative that shows up so often in campaign talking points.

But don’t miss the last part, when Shah offers a new framework beyond these stale talking points, and focuses on creating a world where every person can thrive. As Le Guin writes in The Dispossessed, “You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.”

Silky Shah

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The Border Chronicle
The Border Chronicle
The Border Chronicle podcast is hosted by Melissa del Bosque and Todd Miller. Based in Tucson, Arizona, longtime journalists Melissa and Todd speak with fascinating fronterizos, community leaders, activists, artists and more at the U.S.-Mexico border.