Site Description-BJ

Project Title

Immigration Detention Centers as Built systems for Environmental Injustice


Baïna-Lyssa Jean was born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haïti. In 2010, she was displaced by a 7.0 Mw magnitude earthquake, and moved to New Jersey, USA. The two months navigating the world as a refugee opened Jean’s eye to sustainability, urbanism and the US immigration process. Jean decided to pursue an architectural education and received a Bachelor of Architecture from the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). Since graduating, Jean has been working for an architectural firm in New Jersey, where she is exposed to planning, design, sustainability and construction administration in the educational sector. Jean is also part of the executive board of the New Jersey National Organization of Minority Architects (NJNOMA), studying to complete the Architect Registration Exam (ARE) and pursuing a graduate level education.

Project Site Description

Although climate change affects every countries, the imminent devastating effects are highly felt by third world countries populations. Severe heat, heavy downpours and flooding creates extreme poverty for third world countries that rely heavily on scarce natural resources. Deforestation, drought, insecurity, lack of health care, forces population to seek a better life in other territories. 

The United States has a larger immigrant population than any other country and their immigration infrastructure and laws has made it specifically difficult for non-white immigrants to be welcomed. The United States is home to the largest Haïtian migrant population in the world as they are fleeing violence, poverty, natural disasters etc. Being an Haïtian immigrant somehow makes you a criminal on American soil as the U.S. detains Haïtian immigrant seeking asylum in abusive detention centers, and separates parents from their children. This year the percentage of Haïtian families in detention increased to 44% of the total, which means that more Haitian families are being detaining than any other nationality in the U.S. Not only are Haitian families being detained more often, but they pay much higher bonds than other immigrants in detention, about 54% higher than other immigrants. Haitians also had the second-highest denial rate of asylum at 87%. 

We will analyze a few detention centers as built system where environmental injustice are evident. Abusive unit placements, toxic exposure to chemical disinfectant, inadequate medical responses, sanitation and hygiene issues are a few components that will be analyzed. As well as the Haïtian immigration journey to the United State. These analysis will help understand the environmental injustice in the U.S. system. 

What impact does climate change have on Haïti? Are the US immigration laws purposefully set up to reject Haitian migrants? What infrastructure partake in the criminalization of immigrants? How is the build environment of these detention centers able tp reject immigrant’s human rights? Why do detention centers resemble jails? Are Haitians still paying a price for defying white authorities by being the first free black country?


Climate change, Displacement, Immigration, Immigrations laws, Infrastructure, Building systems, Built environment, Architecture, United State of America, Haiti, Haitians, Non-white immigration, Migration, Borders, Unfairness, Injustice.