From the dark days of the Chinese Exclusion Act to post–September 11 crackdowns on undocumented immigrants, immigration detention has a controversial history in both our nation and in the Puget Sound region. Between World/Behind Bars is a four-part radio series exploring immigration detention from its roots in the 1930s at “Seattle’s Ellis Island” in the International District to today’s privately-run Northwest Detention Center on the Tacoma Tideflats.
Immigration, detention and deportation in the Northwest
An imposing brick building on Airport Way at the edge of the International District housed detained immigrants from 1931 to 2004. It was once known as Seattle’s Ellis Island. Producer Sarah Stuteville takes us to this now–empty building and uncovers dark memories of life within its walls.
In 2004 a new detention center opened on the tideflats below downtown Tacoma. Owned and operated by a private corporation, it houses up to a thousand immigrants at a time while arrangements are made to deport them. Alex Stonehill takes us inside, and finds out about the controversy surrounding immigration detention.
This story takes us to Washington state’s border with Canada, where the Border Patrol arrests hundreds of people each year. Producer Jessica Partnow heads out on a ride along with border patrol and spends the night watching for smugglers.
In our final segment, producer Jessica Partnow follows the story of one family living in immigration limbo in Auburn, Washington.
Slideshow produced by Gladys Chiu.
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