Between Worlds/Behind Bars

Many Uch inside the Airport Way detention facility. Photo by Eroyn Franklin.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

By Jessica Partnow, Alex Stonehill and Sarah Stuteville · February 12, 2010

Many Uch inside the Airport Way detention facility. Photo by Eroyn Franklin.

Audio: Seattle’s Ellis Island
By Sarah Stuteville for KUOW.

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.

Guard at the Northwest Detention Center. Photo by Alex Stonehill.

Audio: Detention in the City of Destiny
By Alex Stonehill for KUOW.

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.

Mike Bermudez. Photo by Eroyn Franklin.

Audio: Washington on the Front Lines
By Jessica Partnow for KUOW.

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.

Gabriela Cubillos. (Photo by Eroyn Franklin)

Audio: Living in Limbo
By Jessica Partnow for KUOW.

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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Sarah Stuteville

Sarah Stuteville is a print and multimedia journalist. She’s a cofounder of The Seattle Globalist. Stuteville won the 2011 Sigma Delta Chi Award for magazine writing. She writes a weekly column on our region’s international connections that is shared by the Seattle Globalist and The Seattle Times and funded with a grant from Seattle International Foundation. Reach Sarah at