Frontline’s ‘Lost in Detention’ Examines Immigration Policy Enforcement

BY Saskia de Melker  October 18, 2011 at 5:08 PM EST

A year-long investigation by Frontline and the American University Investigative Reporting Workshop examines the current U.S. immigration enforcement system and stories of hidden abuse in detention centers.

The Obama administration has deported or detained more immigrants than any other administration. The Frontline documentary ‘Lost in Detention’ begins with a closer look at the Secure Communities program, in which Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) records are shared with local law enforcement agencies. While the goal has been to target criminals, thousands of non-criminal immigrants have also been deported.

Once illegal immigrants are detained they are sent to detention centers, often far from their homes. In an interview with Hari Sreenivasan, FRONTLINE correspondent Maria Hinojosa said that their investigation uncovered many cases of sexual and physical assault by guards against detainees. Hinojosa said that the bigger issue is that detainees have little, if any, legal rights or recourse to confront abuse.

The political implications of these immigration policies are far-reaching. With over 50 million Latinos in America, Latino voters represented a strong base in the 2008 election for President Obama, who made immigration reform a key part of his platform. And, as Hinojosa points out, immigration will be crucial point of debate heading into the 2012 election.

The hour-long documentary “Lost in Detention” will air on Frontline Tuesday night. Check local listings.