Updated 2:35 PM ET, Sat November 30, 2019
(CNN) Angelina Godoy started digging for answers more than a year ago.The human rights researcher had heard that ICE agents occasionally swept up migrant kids and locked them up in juvenile detention facilities, but she had no idea why.
One of the places ICE supposedly housed these young people, Godoy learned, was a few hours from her home in Seattle. She searched online for information about the detentions, but couldn’t find anything that explained what was going on.
She then filed a series of public records requests with officials at the juvenile detention center closest to her, hoping they could shed light on what ICE was doing and why these minors were being held in places run more like jails than the shelters most migrant children end up in when they are detained. She had specifically requested detailed detainee files, with names and personal information redacted, and the facility was ready to share them with her.
But what happened next stunned her: ICE blocked the facility from sharing the records and the federal government even went to court to keep the information secret.
Unbeknownst to Godoy, she had stumbled upon an obscure pocket of the immigration system, where little is known, and little is divulged.