Seth Freed Wessler


Seth Freed Wessler


‘When I Say I’m Complicit, This Is What I Mean’

What happens when your job makes you an accomplice to the Trump administration’s war on immigrants and refugees.

Is Canada Complicit in ‘Violating International Law’?

"If we've figured out a way to use Canadian equipment and personnel to facilitate a U.S. policy and the United States is then violating international rules in using Canada's ships and personnel, we're complicit in that illegality."

The Coast Guard’s ‘Floating Guantánamos’

The open waters between Ecuador and Colombia, from which Jhonny Arcentales departed. Glenna Gordon for The New York Times. On nights when the November rain poured down and he had not slept at all, Jhonny Arcentales had visions of dying, of his body being cast into the dark ocean. He would imagine his wife and their teenage son tossing his clothes into a pit in a cemetery and gathering at the local church for his funeral.
The New York Times Link to Story

Days of Deportation

To mark President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office, the Department of Homeland Security posted a multimedia update on its website featuring video of faceless federal agents placing handcuffs on a series of suspects. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers had detained some 41,000 undocumented immigrants in that period—a 38 percent year-on-year increase—which, according to the site, reflects “President Trump’s commitment to enforce our immigration laws.”.

To Serve the National Interest

Rhizome is pleased to announce To Serve the National Interest, an installation of new collaborative work by Ingrid Burrington, Josh Begley, and Seth Freed Wessler on view at Ace Hotel New York’s gallery from April 5 through April 28, 2017, as part of Ace’s support of Seven on Seven. Building on Wessler’s journalistic investigation into privately run immigrant-only federal prisons, Burrington and Begley present seventy-five individual lenticular prints of satellite imagery capturing these sites and government documents pertaining to them. Link to Story

Dreamers Get Real

Two DACA recipients (now in their 20's) go back to El Salvador for the first time in 12 years. They wanted to see their sick grandfather, and scope out what life would be like if Trump ends DACA ended and they were deported.
This American Life Link to Story

How Trump Could Make Criminals to Deport

 The only way to quickly deport 3 million immigrants is to first make them into criminals—and he’ll have the tools to do so on day one.
The Nation Link to Story

Fresh Air: Investigation Into Private Prisons Reveals Inmate Deaths

Seth Freed Wessler reported on substandard medical care in privately-run prisons in the federal corrections system for The Nation, which may have led the Justice Department to phase out their use. This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross, who's off this week. Last week, the Justice Department announced it would start to phase out the use of private for-profit prisons to hold federal inmates.

The Justice Department Will End Federal Private Prisons, Following a ‘Nation’ Investigation

In an historic rebuke of the private prison industry, the Department of Justice today announced plans to eliminate the use of private prisons to incarcerate federal inmates. The announcement follows the release of a critical inspector general’s report and an investigative series published in The Nation, in partnership with the Investigative Fund and Reveal News.
The Nation Link to Story

Federal Officials Ignored Years of Internal Warnings About Deaths at Private Prisons

A trove of 20,000 pages of previously unreleased monitoring reports, internal investigations, and other documents obtained through an open-records suit show that the Bureau of Prisons had been warned of substandard medical care by its own monitors for years but failed to act.
The Nation Link to Story

Sick on the inside: Behind bars in immigrant-only prisons

For years, journalists and advocates have raised questions about medical care inside private federal prisons for noncitizens. This segment exposes the truth behind those complaints, relying on extensive medical files obtained by Investigative Fund reporter Seth Freed Wessler.
Reveal Link to Story

‘This Man Will Almost Certainly Die’

A year-long investigation about men who die of neglect in separate and unequal federal prisons for immigrants.
The Nation Link to Story


Seth Freed Wessler

Seth Freed Wessler is an investigative reporter and a Puffin Fellow at The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute. He has reported for The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, ProPublica, This American Life, Reveal/The Center for Investigative Reporting, and other outlets. He has won numerous awards including the Hillman Prize, the John Bartlow Martin Award, the Izzy Award, the Investigative Prize from the Society of American Business Editors and Reporters, the Reporting Award from the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, the Al Neuharth Award for Investigative Journalism from NAHJ, and the Immigration Journalism Prize from the French-American Foundation.

Seth was previously a staff reporter for and and has been a Visiting Scholar at NYU’s Arthur Carter Journalism Institute, a Soros Justice Media Fellow, a Logan Nonfiction Fellow at the Carey Institute for Global Good, and a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. His work on immigration enforcement, federal prisons and social services has spurred legislative reforms, inspired advocacy campaigns, and led to shifts in federal and state policy. He has appeared on NPR's Fresh Air, WNYC, Democracy Now, and MSNBC.