"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.