A joint investigation withInvestigative Reporting Workshop

Lost in Detention

October 18, 2011

FRONTLINE and the Investigative Reporting Workshop examine the Obama administration’s controversial get-tough immigration policy.

(53:40) FRONTLINE investigates the Obama administration's get-tough immigration policy.


Sheriff Mark Curran: Why He Changed His Mind About Secure Communities

Curran, the Republican sheriff of Lake County, Ill., was initially onboard with the Obama administrations immigration program known as Secure Communities: “When you have local, state and federal law enforcement all sharing information, all working together, … that’s when we work best.” After seeing it in action, however, he’s become an outspoken critic.

Why Three Governors Challenged Secure Communities

Over the past year, three Democratic state governors — and Obama supporters — have attempted to pull out of the administration’s controversial Secure Communities program. Here’s why.


After Riot, Feds End Contract for Private Texas Prison

This is the second time that Management and Training Corp. has lost a contract to run the facility at Willacy, amid allegations of poor conditions or treatment of detainees.

“Predictable” Riot at Texas Prison Followed Years of Complaints

Prisoners at the Willacy County Correctional Institution had complained of abuse and squalid conditions for years before the uprising began.

Why Immigrant Detainees Still Aren’t Safe from Abuse

People held in immigration detention centers still face challenges reporting sexual abuse and assault, sometimes because the government deports them before an investigation is completed, a government watchdog report found.

As Senate Debates, Immigration Backlog Keeps Growing

The number of deportation cases is the highest it’s been in 15 years.

Immigration Bill Prioritizes Border Security

But the U.S. has already spent billions — and according to a recent GAO report, we don’t know whether it’s making a difference.

Why ICE Released Those 2,000 Immigrant Detainees

It was due to budget reasons, Director John Morton told Congress today.

Senators Unveil Bipartisan Blueprint for Immigration Reform

Their plan includes a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, “contingent” upon success in securing borders.

DHS to Adopt New Rules on Immigration Detention Abuse

Immigrants detained in facilities run by the Homeland Security department are a step closer to having the same protections from abuse as other inmates in the U.S., nearly a year after a government investigation found troubling allegations of sexual abuse in some facilities.

What’s Changed for Immigrants in Detention?

After abuses were uncovered, the Obama administration called for an overhaul of the immigrant detention system. But how much has changed?

New U.S. Immigration Policy Could Prevent Thousands of Deportations

Under a new policy announced today by the Department of Homeland Security, up to 800,000 illegal immigrants will be allowed … Continue reading

Few Immigrants See Relief from Deportations In Obama Administration Review

The news comes as Obama is courting Latino voters in his re-election bid.

New Prison Rape Rules Don’t Yet Cover Immigrant Detention Sites

The Justice Department released new rules yesterday designed to curb sexual abuse in federal and state detention facilities, including stricter … Continue reading

New Immigration Detention Center Aims for a Less Prison-Like Feel

As part of their promise to overhaul the nation’s vast network of immigration detention centers, Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] … Continue reading

Is Immigration Program Hampering Investigation into School Abuse Scandal?

At least two families of students at Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles — where in recent weeks two teachers … Continue reading

Is California the Next Secure Communities Battleground?

We’ve reported on the attempts by three states – New York, Illinois and Massachusetts — to challenge the Obama administration’s … Continue reading

GAO to Investigate Sexual Abuse at Immigration Detention Centers

The move comes after members of Congress petitioned the office to act, citing FRONTLINE’s “Lost in Detention.”

Obama Administration Recommends Halting More than 1,600 Pending Deportations

Back in August, the Obama administration announced it would begin reviewing 300,000 backlogged immigration cases in order to better identify … Continue reading

Members of Congress Urge Investigation into Sexual Abuse in Immigrant Detention Centers

Citing our October film Lost in Detention, 30 members of Congress are pressing the Government Accountability Office to look into … Continue reading

Controversial “Secure Communities” Immigration Program Will Be Mandatory by 2013

By 2013, states will have little choice but to comply with the Obama administration’s controversial Secure Communities immigration program, which collects … Continue reading

DHS to Begin Review of Deportation Cases

Today, the Department of Homeland Security [DHS] is poised to begin streamlining its much-criticized deportation process, accelerating the court docket … Continue reading

Report: Deportation Efforts Still Broad, Uneven

In June, Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] chief John Morton sought to clarify the agency’s increasingly controversial deportation programs. ICE … Continue reading

Obama Official Under Fire After “Lost in Detention” Interview

The Obama administration’s immigration policies have outraged many Latino activists.  And according to The Washington Post, one person in particular … Continue reading

Study: 5,100 Kids in Foster Care After Parents Deported

“Even if the [immigration] law is executed with perfection, there will be parents separated from their children,” White House Director … Continue reading

Why Did the Gov’t Make Secure Communities Mandatory?

In October 2010, during a press conference, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said that the controversial immigration program known … Continue reading

Sec. Napolitano Questioned About “Lost in Detention”

“What is the Department of Homeland Security doing to ensure that immigration detainees are safe from sexual abuse, whether they’re … Continue reading

New Secure Communities Study Reveals Troubling Data

Just yesterday, the Obama administration announced it had deported a record number of illegal immigrants in fiscal year 2011. But … Continue reading

Republican Candidates Take on Immigration

While our film Lost in Detention was airing last night, exploring the Obama administration’s controversial immigration policies, another debate was … Continue reading

Live Chat 1 p.m. ET: Detained in America

Read the full transcript of our live chat with Maria Hinojosa, producer Catherine Rentz and Univision’s Tifani Roberts about “Lost in Detention.”

Roberto Suro: Obama’s Immigration Conundrum

Obama is facing “quite a negative legacy on an issue that has cried out for policy-making,” says Suro, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and the School of Policy, Planning and Development at the University of Southern California.

What Are Immigration Detainees’ Legal Rights?

How long can immigrants be held? Who are their advocates? We asked Mark Fleming, the national litigation coordinator for the National Immigration Justice Center, for some basic information about legal rights in the immigration detention system.

Record Number of Illegal Immigrants Deported in 2011

Stay tuned for Lost in Detention, our upcoming film on the immigration debate. It airs tonight; check your local listings … Continue reading

Obama Official Defends Controversial Immigration Policies

Last year, the Obama administration set new records for detaining and deporting immigrants who were inside the U.S. illegally. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano recently indicated that the 2011 numbers will be even higher, resulting in the removal of more than 400,000 people. …

Will Latino Voters Turn Their Back on Obama?

Tonight, President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign strategist David Axelrod will attend a $250-a-person campaign event in Phoenix, Ariz. Sen. John McCain won the state in 2008, but Latinos now make up nearly 30 percent of Arizona voters, and Democrats are optimistic that recent redistricting efforts may play out in the president’s favor.

Sec. Napolitano: Time for a “Reality Check” on Immigration

Stay tuned for Lost in Detention, our upcoming film on the immigration debate. It airs Oct. 18; check your local … Continue reading

Univision Features “Lost in Detention”

Univision’s Aquí y Ahora aired a lengthy segment this week on our upcoming documentary Lost in Detention, which premieres Oct. … Continue reading

“Growing Up in the Shadows” of Illegal Immigration

About 5.5 million children in the U.S. have a parent who is here illegally; some of these kids are as … Continue reading

“Growing Up in the Shadows” of Illegal Immigration

About 5.5 million children in the U.S. have a parent who is here illegally; some of these kids are as … Continue reading


28:18Stickup Kid12/17/2014
27:14Separate and Unequal07/15/2014
53:40Solitary Nation04/22/2014
blog comments powered by Disqus


Frontline Journalism Fund

Supporting Investigative Reporting

Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Park Foundation, the John and Helen Glessner Family Trust, the Ford Foundation, Wyncote Foundation, and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation.

Privacy Policy   Journalistic Guidelines   PBS Privacy Policy   PBS Terms of Use   Corporate Sponsorship
FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of WGBH Educational Foundation.
Web Site Copyright ©1995-2015 WGBH Educational Foundation
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.