Getty photographer John Moore is thoroughly right to call out the tactic of humiliation in the treatment of undocumented immigrant detainees in Phoenix. If this is just one frame in a larger photo set capturing the infamous Sheriff Arpaio’s tent city jail, “the pinking” of these men — many scooped up for nuisance (read: political) reasons who will now be deported and separated from their families – is a ham-fisted psy-op tactic that colors every moment of daily life. To the extent these prisoners willfully display their state-issued underduds to the photographer, surely the offense is top of mind.
What’s even more troubling, however, is that this is not a new story but, instead, a stain that lingers on without remediation. The photo that leads this post was photographed just yesterday from this story at Zimbio. This one just below was taken by Moore when he shot this story back in April of 2010.
Addressing the two photos and the way they serve similar functions in the different edits, by the way, how are we to think about the difference? The circumstances could have been purely random, of course, a function of sunlight and proximity to the tent. The anonymity in the current image (plus, the outlandish matching socks), however, certainly conveys a greater sense of shame and humiliation — a tone sharpened because the immigration issue overall is now drawing that much more light.
(photo: John Moore/Getty Images caption 1: Immigrant inmates show off a pair of pink underwear while sitting on a bunk in the Maricopa County Tent City jail on March 11, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona. The striped uniforms and pink undergarments are standard issue at the facility. The tent jail, run by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, houses undocumented immigrants who are serving up to one year after being convicted of crime in the county. Although many of immigrants have lived in the U.S for years, often with families, most will be deported to Mexico after serving their sentences. caption 2: Undocumented immigrant Sam Ramos, 39, shows off his jail-issued pink underwear in the Maricopa County ‘Tent City Jail’ on April 30, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. Ramos, a construction contractor, said he has lived in Arizona for 24 years and has an American wife and four children born in the U.S. He was stopped by Maricopa sheriff’s department deputies on an outstanding warrant and expects to be deported back to Mexico after his four month sentence. Some 200 undocumented immigrants are currently serving time in the facility. The controversial jail is run by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has been an outspoken critic of illegal immigration and a supporter of Arizona’s new tough immigration law. Prisoners at the facility are fed twice a day, sleep in non-airconditioned tents and are issued striped prison uniforms and pink undergarments to wear.)