(Video) Deportations and Uncovering Hidden Abuses in Detention Centers

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed an executive order Wednesday prohibiting police officers from questioning the immigration status of those arrested. This comes the day after the U.S. government announced it deported a record number of undocumented immigrants in 2011.

But the District may have to eventually implement Secure Communities, a controversial federal program that requires law enforcement officials to share arrest information with immigration officials. A new Frontline series focuses on Secure Communities, the deportation process and hidden abuses in immigrant detention centers. The program, “Lost in Detention,” was the result of a collaboration with American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop

Reporter Maria Hinojosa recently spoke with PBS NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan about the possibility that more sexual abuse is taking place in detention centers than is reported.  “If you’re an immigrant who is detained in a detention center,” Hinojosa said, “and you’re an immigrant with papers or without, if you are sexually assaulted by a guard while you’re in a detention center, you may not have any legal right to hold anyone accountable.”

You can watch the first part of the Frontline series below:

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ICE Deportations Reach Record Levels

John Moore / Getty Images

Undocumented Guatemalan immigrants are body searched before boarding a deportation flight to Guatemala City, Guatemala at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport on June 24, 2011 in Mesa, Arizona.

The United States has deported more people over the past fiscal year than ever before, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

ICE deported 396,906 people between October 2010 and September 2011. About 55 percent of those deported had been convicted of felonies or misdemeanors.

“These year-end totals indicate that we are making progress, with more convicted criminals, recent border crossers, egregious immigration law violators and immigration fugitives being removed from the country than ever before,” ICE Director John Morton said in a press release.

ICE officials see the deportation numbers as positive, but the agency has come under heat for its recent practices, particularly over the controversial Secure Communities program. It directs local police departments to share finger prints and other arrest information with immigration officials. Critics say domestic violence victims and witnesses have been deported as a result, and that can foster distrust between immigrant communities and police. Federal officials have announced reforms, although there is still skepticism over how such changes will be implemented.

D.C. has yet to implement Secure Communities, but it may soon be mandatory around the country.