The story behind 'Lost in Detention'

The story behind 'Lost in Detention'

"The Workshop requested data going back a decade about people held by the U.S. government for deportation, including detainee names, when and where individuals were booked in and booked out of detention, and what prompted their arrest.  We asked for this information in several Freedom of Information Act requests to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, part of the Department of Homeland Security, one of the nation’s largest, federal, law-enforcement agencies.  What arrived at our doorstep in 2009 was a mess of confusing and incomplete information that didn’t help us answer our original questions.  After months of trying to pry data from the agency about those being detained, it was clear that the government didn’t always know where the detainees were held, how long they were detained, or how much they paid to house and feed them. In fact, our records showed that in some cases officials might not have known whether detainees were actually in custody or even if they were dead or alive."  -  Margaret Ebrahim, Investigative Reporting Workshop, American University School of Communication, Oct. 14, 2011.