The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and five partners exposed how U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement used solitary confinement to isolate thousands of its most vulnerable detainees, including the mentally ill, LGBTQ people and even the disabled, for weeks and months at a time, in violation of United Nations human rights standards. The reporting included interviews with dozens of detainees from around the world and a Homeland Security whistleblower and a groundbreaking data analysis of more than 8,400 solitary placement incident reports. U.S. lawmakers including two Democratic presidential candidates denounced ICE's practices and called for accountability after the “Solitary Voices” investigation. Read the Story »

Illustration credit: Rocco Fazzari


State legislatures amassed more than 250 bills in 2019 focused on immigration — hot topics such as sanctuary cities, professional licensing, the census question and separating children from their parents at the border. Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University provided a state-by-state look and a national overview with breakouts on driver's licenses and in-state tuition legislation. IRW also tracks Trump administration changes in immigration policy and presidential candidates' positions. Read the Story »

Philadelphia Public School Notebook covered the arrests and deportation case of an Indonesian couple who settled in the United States 20 years ago and have two daughters who are U.S. citizens attending elite schools. The story showed how school communities and families are affected as policy has changed since previous administrations, during which such parents with no criminal records were just required to check in periodically with immigration officials. Read the Story » exposed the behind-the-scenes maneuvering involved in creating a Pima County, Arizona, shelter for asylum-seekers newly released by federal immigration authorities. The reporting resulted in a more open process, including special Board of Supervisors meeting where both left- and right-wing activists vehemently opposed the project. Read the Story »

The Hartford Guardian provided time-sensitive coverage of a complicated case in which the state attorney general opposed an Immigration and Customs Enforcement move to deport a legal resident to England. Community response to the story about Wayzaro Walton and a photo of her crying wife was followed by a protest in front of the immigration building and a federal appeals court blocking the impending deportation. Read the Story »

Tamika Ferguson wipes away tears from her eyes as she pleads with ICE officials to release her wife, Wayzaro Walton. Photo credit: Ann-Marie Adams


Borderzine helped bring national attention to an effort by religious leaders and human rights activists to use art to help the thousands of immigrant children being detained and separated from their parents at the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez border. The art projects, intended to ease some of the trauma of separation by letting children express their feelings, resulted in a museum exhibit called “Uncaged Art.” Borderzine trains student journalists on the border to own the unfolding immigration story because it is part of their day-to-day reality. Read the Story »

Enlace Latino NC reported that for some immigrants at risk of deportation, sanctuary has allowed them to avoid family separation but that it is like a “jail without bars.” The story focused on the Rev. José Chicas, who after living in North Carolina for 30 years, has taken refuge for two years in a Durham church, hoping a miracle will resolve his deportation case. Read the Story »

Pastor José Chicas has lived moments of “frustration, loneliness, depression and abandonment,” although his sanctuary experience also has allowed him to meet wonderful people and strengthen their faith in God. Photo credit: Sandra Marquina


The Colorado Independent revealed the scope of the use of solitary confinement on detainees by private-prison company GEO Corp. at its Aurora Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center. In a story built upon records obtained from ICE by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and organized by Arizona Mirror—two other nonprofit news organizations—11 former detainees recounted their experiences of being isolated up to 23 hours a day. Members of Colorado’s congressional delegation reacted by condemning the use of solitary and sending staff to inspect the GEO facility. Read the Story »

Documented explored what is happening to families of undocumented immigrants as deportations increase — they are ineligible for housing benefits, putting them at risk of homelessness. The collaboration with another nonprofit New York news outlet, the City, followed a Honduran family over several months after the father was detained, showing the limitations of New York being a sanctuary city. Read the Story »

BirminghamWatch shined a light on longstanding deficiencies in the Etowah County Detention Center, a jail with documented issues of crowding, inadequate health care, insufficient food supply and poor sanitation. With the support of a powerful Alabama congressional delegation, it continues to operate as an immigration detention center. Read the Story »