What’s Changed for Immigrants in Detention?


October 22, 2012

After 9/11, undocumented immigrants waiting for deportation hearings were locked up in detention centers, some of which were run by private prison companies.

Last fall’s Lost in Detention, a joint investigation by FRONTLINE and the Investigative Reporting Workshop found disturbing reports of maggot-filled food, and verbal and sexual abuse by guards at one such facility, the Willacy Detention Center in south Texas.

What happened there was so disturbing that the Department of Homeland Security launched 13 special criminal investigations.

Willacy has since been converted to a detention facility only for immigrants with criminal convictions, and the Obama administration has called for an overhaul of the detention system. But how much has changed for the rest of those in detention?

In a radio segment for NPR, correspondent Maria Hinojosa shows just how difficult reform can be, through interviews with former detainees, abuse victims, and whistleblowers.

Listen to the full report here.

Sarah Childress

Sarah Childress, Senior Editor & Director of Local Projects, FRONTLINE



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