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Pictures | Thu May 31, 2018 | 8:50pm EDT

Inside Otay Mesa immigration detention center

A detainee sits with a soccer ball at Otay Mesa immigration detention center in San Diego, California, May 18, 2018. At the Otay Mesa Detention Center near San Diego, several hundred detainees of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are held awaiting immigration hearings to decide the fate of their asylum claims.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A detainee sits with a soccer ball at Otay Mesa immigration detention center in San Diego, California, May 18, 2018. At the Otay Mesa Detention Center near San Diego, several hundred detainees of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are...more

A detainee sits with a soccer ball at Otay Mesa immigration detention center in San Diego, California, May 18, 2018. At the Otay Mesa Detention Center near San Diego, several hundred detainees of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are held awaiting immigration hearings to decide the fate of their asylum claims. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Razor wire sits on top of the entrance to Otay Mesa immigration detention center. But the chances of being granted asylum are slim and many immigrants could face long detentions of up to several years separated from families and loved ones while awaiting court hearings that could end with deportation orders.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Razor wire sits on top of the entrance to Otay Mesa immigration detention center. But the chances of being granted asylum are slim and many immigrants could face long detentions of up to several years separated from families and loved ones while...more

Razor wire sits on top of the entrance to Otay Mesa immigration detention center. But the chances of being granted asylum are slim and many immigrants could face long detentions of up to several years separated from families and loved ones while awaiting court hearings that could end with deportation orders. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. "The Otay Mesa Detention facility is basically a jail for immigrants with two major exceptions. Not a single person there is there serving time for a crime and the vast majority of people there don't have the opportunity to get out on bail. They are just warehoused there while they go through their immigration process," said Bardis Vakili, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), about the privately-run detention facility near California's southern border with Mexico. In addition to those apprehended by ICE, the detention center also houses detainees of the U.S. Marshals Service.


REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. "The Otay Mesa Detention facility is basically a jail for immigrants with two major exceptions. Not a single person there is there serving time for a crime and the vast majority of people...more

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. "The Otay Mesa Detention facility is basically a jail for immigrants with two major exceptions. Not a single person there is there serving time for a crime and the vast majority of people there don't have the opportunity to get out on bail. They are just warehoused there while they go through their immigration process," said Bardis Vakili, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), about the privately-run detention facility near California's southern border with Mexico. In addition to those apprehended by ICE, the detention center also houses detainees of the U.S. Marshals Service. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. As the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump takes a harder line toward undocumented immigrants, many people who find themselves on the wrong side of U.S. immigration law could end up at a facility like Otay Mesa.


REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. As the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump takes a harder line toward undocumented immigrants, many people who find themselves on the wrong side of U.S. immigration law could end...more

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. As the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump takes a harder line toward undocumented immigrants, many people who find themselves on the wrong side of U.S. immigration law could end up at a facility like Otay Mesa. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Detainees' possessions are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. Once inside the facility, detainees are held in "housing units" that can hold approximately 130 detainees. According to ICE, the detainees are permitted to work at the detention center, receiving wages of between $1 to $1.75 per day.


REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees' possessions are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. Once inside the facility, detainees are held in "housing units" that can hold approximately 130 detainees. According to ICE, the detainees are permitted to work at the...more

Detainees' possessions are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. Once inside the facility, detainees are held in "housing units" that can hold approximately 130 detainees. According to ICE, the detainees are permitted to work at the detention center, receiving wages of between $1 to $1.75 per day. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. "They also have an opportunity to sign up for work, that can range from doing exterior perimeter weed pulling and landscaping to sanitary duties to kitchen staff duties, commissary assistance, roughly what they can do if they sign up for a job," explained an ICE officer who would not show his face or give his name out of fear of retribution.


REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. "They also have an opportunity to sign up for work, that can range from doing exterior perimeter weed pulling and landscaping to sanitary duties to kitchen staff duties, commissary...more

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. "They also have an opportunity to sign up for work, that can range from doing exterior perimeter weed pulling and landscaping to sanitary duties to kitchen staff duties, commissary assistance, roughly what they can do if they sign up for a job," explained an ICE officer who would not show his face or give his name out of fear of retribution. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. ICE told Reuters that detainees have four hours of recreation time each day while at Otay Mesa in which they can play sports, go to the chapel or visit the detention center's library to work on their immigration cases.


REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. ICE told Reuters that detainees have four hours of recreation time each day while at Otay Mesa in which they can play sports, go to the chapel or visit the detention center's library to...more

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. ICE told Reuters that detainees have four hours of recreation time each day while at Otay Mesa in which they can play sports, go to the chapel or visit the detention center's library to work on their immigration cases. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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People walk into Otay Mesa immigration detention center. The ACLU's Bardis Vakili disputed this, saying detainees may be locked up for up to 23 hours a day. "People are in jumpsuits, they spend 23 hours a day confined to a unit, there's maybe 80 people in a particular unit. They get an hour of yard time, the yard is a concrete outdoor area surrounded by 20 foot walls. There was a soccer field that they got access to sometimes but it was reported earlier this year that the soccer field would be leveled to make room for 500 more beds," he said.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

People walk into Otay Mesa immigration detention center. The ACLU's Bardis Vakili disputed this, saying detainees may be locked up for up to 23 hours a day. "People are in jumpsuits, they spend 23 hours a day confined to a unit, there's maybe 80...more

People walk into Otay Mesa immigration detention center. The ACLU's Bardis Vakili disputed this, saying detainees may be locked up for up to 23 hours a day. "People are in jumpsuits, they spend 23 hours a day confined to a unit, there's maybe 80 people in a particular unit. They get an hour of yard time, the yard is a concrete outdoor area surrounded by 20 foot walls. There was a soccer field that they got access to sometimes but it was reported earlier this year that the soccer field would be leveled to make room for 500 more beds," he said. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Handcuffs are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. In March and April, more than 50,000 people were detained per month trying to cross the southwest border illegally, levels similar to those during the administration of Barack Obama, according to U.S. government figures. During those two months a total of about 8,400 unaccompanied minors were caught on the southwest border.


REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Handcuffs are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. In March and April, more than 50,000 people were detained per month trying to cross the southwest border illegally, levels similar to those during the administration of Barack Obama,...more

Handcuffs are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. In March and April, more than 50,000 people were detained per month trying to cross the southwest border illegally, levels similar to those during the administration of Barack Obama, according to U.S. government figures. During those two months a total of about 8,400 unaccompanied minors were caught on the southwest border. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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An ICE officer is seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. But once they reach the United States, migrants must run the gauntlet of an immigration system caught between assisting or criminalizing hundreds of thousands who have entered the United States in the past decade.


REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

An ICE officer is seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. But once they reach the United States, migrants must run the gauntlet of an immigration system caught between assisting or criminalizing hundreds of thousands who have entered the...more

An ICE officer is seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. But once they reach the United States, migrants must run the gauntlet of an immigration system caught between assisting or criminalizing hundreds of thousands who have entered the United States in the past decade. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Barbed wire is seen through a door at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. Asylum seekers must demonstrate fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality or membership in a particular social group. Criminal threats or violence alone are generally not considered sufficient reason for asylum.


REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Barbed wire is seen through a door at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. Asylum seekers must demonstrate fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality or membership in a particular social group. Criminal threats or violence...more

Barbed wire is seen through a door at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. Asylum seekers must demonstrate fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality or membership in a particular social group. Criminal threats or violence alone are generally not considered sufficient reason for asylum. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Detainees attend a service in a chapel at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. The Trump administration has cited a more-than-tenfold rise in asylum claims compared to 2011, including growing numbers of families and children and a shift to more Central Americans as signs that people are fraudulently taking advantage of the system. Trump aims to change U.S. law to make it harder to claim asylum.


REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees attend a service in a chapel at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. The Trump administration has cited a more-than-tenfold rise in asylum claims compared to 2011, including growing numbers of families and children and a shift to more...more

Detainees attend a service in a chapel at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. The Trump administration has cited a more-than-tenfold rise in asylum claims compared to 2011, including growing numbers of families and children and a shift to more Central Americans as signs that people are fraudulently taking advantage of the system. Trump aims to change U.S. law to make it harder to claim asylum. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. The administration has stepped up immigration enforcement, making it likely that growing numbers of people will be detained awaiting deportation, and is locked in a fight with so-called sanctuary states and cities that offer protection to illegal immigrants.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. The administration has stepped up immigration enforcement, making it likely that growing numbers of people will be detained awaiting deportation, and is locked in a fight with so-called...more

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. The administration has stepped up immigration enforcement, making it likely that growing numbers of people will be detained awaiting deportation, and is locked in a fight with so-called sanctuary states and cities that offer protection to illegal immigrants. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Close
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A guard watches a suicidal detainee in a cell at Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A guard watches a suicidal detainee in a cell at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A guard watches a suicidal detainee in a cell at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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A detainee stands in a cell at Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A detainee stands in a cell at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A detainee stands in a cell at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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A detainee sits on her bed at Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A detainee sits on her bed at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A detainee sits on her bed at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Detainees watch television at Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees watch television at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees watch television at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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A detainee throws away his food tray at Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A detainee throws away his food tray at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A detainee throws away his food tray at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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A detainee plays soccer at Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A detainee plays soccer at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A detainee plays soccer at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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A detainee lies in a dentist's chair at Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A detainee lies in a dentist's chair at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A detainee lies in a dentist's chair at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Books are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Books are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Books are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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A pile of laundry is seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A pile of laundry is seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A pile of laundry is seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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A detainee talks on the phone at Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A detainee talks on the phone at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A detainee talks on the phone at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Detainees are seen at Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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People walk out of Otay Mesa immigration detention center.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

People walk out of Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

People walk out of Otay Mesa immigration detention center. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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