How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Civil immigrant detention: Kinder and gentler, but still a boon for private prisons

Almost three years ago, after a flurry of lawsuits alleging overcrowding, shoddy medical care and the unlawful detention of children in one former prison-turned-immigrant detention center in Texas, Homeland Security officials announced they'd be reforming the immigrant detention system.

The jury is still out on how much of those planned reforms have taken root; last fall, a report put out by an international human rights organization suggested that in spite of promises to make detention centers more liveable, "the overwhelming majority of detainees are still held in jails or jail-like facilities."

Enter what U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is calling its "first-ever designed-and-built civil detention center." It's in Karnes City, Texas and is owned by Karnes County, with the county acting as middleman between ICE and The Geo Group, a private prison company. As is standard practice, counties contract with these companies to develop immigrant detention centers for the government, receiving a cut of the revenue in exchange.

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Human smuggling by sea: A dangerous trend grows deadlier

UPDATED: Of the two deaths, one was related to a boat smuggling attempt, the other to an attempt to swim north around the border fence. It was originally reported that both were related to boat incidents.

Three months ago, the discovery of 15 migrants left stranded for days on remote Santa Cruz Island, about 20 miles off Ventura, made national headlines. Now the trend of smuggling humans up the California coast has taken a darker turn, with two suspected migrants reported dead today - in two separate incidents.

According to the Associated Press, the U.S. Border Patrol reported that one of the people who died was found Tuesday night in Imperial Beach, not far from the U.S.-Mexico border. The second was a man found lying face down in a boat that washed ashore early this morning in Pacific Beach, a popular San Diego tourist beach. Several were injured in that incident; of the 15 people packing the boat, 11 needed emergency medical care.

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