Edition:
United States
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
Close
1 / 34
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
Close
2 / 34
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
Close
3 / 34
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
Close
4 / 34
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
Close
5 / 34
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
Close
6 / 34
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
Close
7 / 34
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
Close
8 / 34
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
Close
9 / 34
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
Close
10 / 34
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
Close
11 / 34
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
Close
12 / 34
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
13 / 34
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
Close
14 / 34
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
Close
15 / 34
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
Close
16 / 34
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
Close
17 / 34
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
Close
18 / 34
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
Close
19 / 34
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
Close
20 / 34
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
Close
21 / 34
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
Close
22 / 34
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
Close
23 / 34
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
Close
24 / 34
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
Close
25 / 34
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
Close
26 / 34
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
Close
27 / 34
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
Close
28 / 34
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
Close
29 / 34
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
Close
30 / 34
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
Close
31 / 34
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
Close
32 / 34
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
Close
33 / 34
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
Close
34 / 34

Next Slideshows

Photos of the week

Our top photos from the past week.

May 31 2018

Nicaragua's month of protest

More than a month after changes to Nicaragua's social security system triggered student-led protests, demonstrations have morphed into a daily challenge to the...

May 31 2018

White House fitness

President Donald Trump participates in the White House Sports and Fitness Day event.

May 30 2018

Strike causes gas shortage in Brazil

A 10-day trucker protest against diesel price hikes has emptied roads and left major cities running short on food, gasoline and medical supplies. Officials warn...

May 30 2018

MORE IN PICTURES

Kids Choice Sports Awards

Kids Choice Sports Awards

Highlights from the Kids Choice Sports Awards.

Best of Comic-Con

Best of Comic-Con

Highlights from the annual Comic-Con gathering in San Diego.

Photos of the week

Photos of the week

Our top photos from the past week.

Eating in virtual reality

Eating in virtual reality

The "TREE BY NAKED, yoyogi park" restaurant in Tokyo incorporates virtual reality, projection mapping, and music to enhance diners' enjoyment of their food.

Pro-Assad villages evacuated in deal with Syrian insurgents

Pro-Assad villages evacuated in deal with Syrian insurgents

Two pro-government villages in northwestern Syria were evacuated, state television reported, in an agreement between the Damascus government and insurgents who had laid siege to them for several years.

Thai cave boys return home

Thai cave boys return home

The 12 boys and the coach of the 'Wild Boars' soccer team, rescued from a flooded cave, return home after being discharged from hospital.

Tearful reunions as Ethiopia-Eritrea flights resume

Tearful reunions as Ethiopia-Eritrea flights resume

The first commercial flights from Ethiopia to Eritrea in 20 years are greeted by dancers waving flags and flowers, cementing a stunning rapprochement that has ended a generation of hostility in a matter of days.

Tent city for immigrant children in Texas

Tent city for immigrant children in Texas

Children suspected of illegal border crossings are housed in tents near the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, but it was not immediately clear whether these "unaccompanied minors" were apprehended without adults or separated from parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration.

Best of Tour de France

Best of Tour de France

Highlights from all the stages of the Tour de France.

Trending Collections

Pictures

Podcast