Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Abuse in ICE detention (PBS-Frontline)

Wisdom Quarterly, PBS, PRI, Frontline
() Coming Oct. 18: Lost in Detention examining the Obama administration's controversial illegal treatment of immigrants.

More than one million immigrants have been deported since Pres. Obama took office. Under his [Cheney-style] administration, deportations and detentions have reached record levels. With it have come complaints of rape, torture, abuse, indefinite detention, and harsh treatment, including charges that families have been unfairly separated after being caught in nationwide dragnets. The administration has promised to make the detention system more humane or to more selectively target serious criminals. But it faces Republican critics urging stricter measures -- and a growing backlash among compassionate voters and Latinos, a key 2012 electoral force. This is a powerful journey into the secretive world of immigrant detention, with a penetrating look at those being detained and the abuses they are put through.

  • WATCH on air and online beginning Tuesday, Oct. 18, 9:00 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).
(PRI, TheWorld.org) Few people associated the candidacy of Barack Obama with a “get tough” approach to illegal immigration. But the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has stepped up deportations under his orders.

And at the same time, a network of detention facilities has expanded to house illegal immigrants. Correspondent Maria Hinojosa from PBS-FRONTLINE along with the Investigative Reporting Workshop spent the last year exploring the hidden world of immigration detention.

Children of undocumented immigrants rally in DC (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images).

In the past decade, three million immigrants have been detained in the system. One of them, a Canadian citizen, was a woman we’ll call Mary. She agreed to speak only if we disguised her identity. Her detention began when local police in Florida pulled her over in a routine traffic stop.

We do not live in a "police state," but somehow US citizens are wrongly detained and deported by I.C.E., yet another paramilitary force targeting civilians (warincontext.org).

They found a warrant for her arrest for a check she had bounced 10 years earlier. ICE discovered she had been living in the US for 15 years without a visa, so the agency sent her a thousand miles away to the Willacy detention center in Texas.

During her three months there, Mary says she endured repeated sexual assaults by a guard. Her voice choking with emotion, she told me how she tried to fight him off, and how he threatened her. “He said, ‘if you tell anyone, you wouldn’t come out of here alive to see your family.’ So then, who do you go and tell?”

() PBS.org A year long investigation examines the current U.S. immigration enforcement system and uncovers hidden stories of abuse in detention system. Hari Sreenivasan interviews Frontline's Maria Hinjosa.

A cache of government documents recently obtained by the ACLU details more than 170 allegations of sexual abuse during the past four years. And FRONTLINE’s investigation uncovered more than a dozen stories of sexual abuse at Willacy, and many other accounts of racial and physical abuse.

When we visited Willacy, ICE would not let us talk with detainees or interview the local ICE officials. But we did speak with dozens of former detainees and staff.

In 2009, Twana Cooks-Allen was the mental health coordinator at Willacy. She was asked to survey all detainees as part of a broad review of the detention system, undertaken by ICE officials in Washington. When Cooks-Allen delivered initial findings of the survey, she says local ICE officials began a cover-up. More

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