Lost in Detention

The controversial “Secure Communitites” immigration enforcement program is losing support from law enforcement, as it fails to deliver on its promises–and creates a backlash from the immigrant communities affected. Worse, PBS’ Frontline discovers evidence of physical and sexual abuse of detainees in ICE detention facilities.

“Last year, the Obama administration set new records for detaining and deporting immigrants who were inside the country illegally. The government plans to best those numbers in 2011, removing more than 400,000 people. In partnership with American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop, FRONTLINE correspondent Maria Hinojosa takes a penetrating look at Obama’s vastly expanded immigration net, explores the controversial Secure Communities enforcement program and goes inside the hidden world of immigration detention in Lost in Detention, airing Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011, at 9 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings),” according to the PBS press release.

It continues, “FRONTLINE discovers that the program has lost support among political leaders in the state and some in law enforcement. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Sheriff Mark Curran, a Republican from Lake County, Ill., were both supporters of the program when ICE began operating it in the state in 2009. But they say the program has not delivered what it promised and has instead created more problems for the state, and a backlash among immigrants.

‘When I deal with the Latino community throughout Lake County,’ Curran says, ‘there is fear that’s running through these communities. They know all about Secure Communities. They know the horror stories of their uncle or their brother that committed the most ticky-tack of offenses and got incarcerated as a result and is now being deported.'”

And: “During a yearlong investigation, FRONTLINE uncovered a troubling picture of abuse inside immigration detention facilities, including more than a dozen allegations of sexual abuse at Willacy, as well as alleged cases of beatings, racism and management cover-ups. Dr. Twana Cooks-Allen, former mental health coordinator at Willacy, told Hinojosa that the detainees she saw inside were not the border-crossers who she expected. ‘They were people who had been established, who had children here, who had businesses, who had attended school.’”

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