As Bianca posted yesterday, last night PBS’s Frontline featured Lost in Detention with Maria Hinojosa. The hour long investigative show looked at the immigration detention policies that have expanded under the Obama administration, specifically the impact of Secure Communities and the abuses in the ever expanding immigration jail industry.
I watched the special report last night and sadly wasn’t surprised by anything presented. The issue of how the Obama administration has focused on increasing deportations, using programs like Secure Communities, is one we have covered for years. I expect though that this program exposed how the current immigration policy is tearing apart families and leading to physical and sexual abuse inside the big business of detention centers to a new audience.
One of the disappointments I was left with after watching Lost in Detention was the way the show seemed to serve as a mic for the excuses given by the Obama administration for the terror it’s policies create. The answer that seemed to be given by Hinojosa for the question “what can be done to stop the deportations and growth of abuses?” was Comprehensive Immigration Reform. There were snippets of speeches by Obama and an interview with the administration’s vendecomunidad Latina spokesmodel Cecilia Muñoz. Some choice quotes from Muñoz:
“even broken laws have to be enforced.”
“as long as congress gives us $ to deport 400,000. That’s what we’re going to do.”
There was no mention of the failure that the farce of prosecutorial discretion has proven to be nor how the administration has refused to answer the demand for administrative relief. I was also disappointed by how the show seemed to legitimize anti-immigrant hate groups by giving them air time. There are plenty of anti-immigrant advocates out there, so to give orgs like the Center for Immigration Studies and people like Mark Krikorian space, without any context of how they have contributed to the proliferation of hateful state legislation like Arizona’s notorious SB 1070, is problematic to say the least.
Last night’s show aired just as new information regarding immigration detention and deportation was released in a new report by the UC Berkley School of Law’s Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy. The report reveals that over 3,600 U.S. citizens have been apprehended through the Secure Communities program and more than one-third of the individuals identified for deportation have a spouse or child who is a U.S. citizen, thus extending the impact of the program to over 88,000 families with citizens. Overwhelmingly, those impacted by the Secure Communities policies are Latino.
Detention Watch Network’s End Mandatory Detention campaign has also just released a video, highlighting what the impact of immigration detention is and what are some alternatives.