Date of Submission

Spring 5-8-2022

Degree Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Architecture



Committee Chair/First Advisor

M. Saleh Uddin

Secondary Advisor

Zamila Karimi


Today, more than 40 million people living in the US were born in another country, accounting for about one-fifth of the world’s migrants. Even though the US is a nation comprised largely of immigrants and their descendants, immigration remains one of the most fraught social and political issues of modern times. People dream of moving into the country seeking a better life than the one they are leaving behind. Yet, upon arrival, they face inhumane circumstances due to the recent influx of people seeking asylum within the US. According to the Department of Homeland Security, over 3 million people arrived at the southern border in the past few years looking to escape crime, violence, and poverty. Homeland Security’s response to the influx was constructing poorly built makeshift shelters that do not take into consideration those being held.

Current conditions within immigration processing centers are completely inhumane and negligent of basic human rights. The makeshift shelters include metal framed tents, divided by pods with plastic screening as walls, and without any access to natural light. Migrants are confined within these spaces that entail a lack of resources, decency, hygiene, and are overcapacity most of the time. These makeshift spaces are comprised of minimum space, effort, structure, energy, and a minimum sense of home. When the bare minimum becomes regulation, how do we challenge the integrity of migrant detention, framing it as an architectural problem, and reimagine an alternative through the built environment?

This thesis scrutinizes and challenges the current state of immigration processing centers by designing an alternative and primary processing option that prioritizes living, educational, social, and wellness needs while maintaining an efficiency appropriate enough for security protocols. The new proposal will be designed and planned as a campus where the facility challenges the urban integrity of the site by proposing an inviting standard rather than isolation as it looks to architecturally transform existing processing centers into a spatially and socially humane environment, representing hope and promise, rather than fear and discord for the migrant population.