HAL FAR, MALTA - JUNE 21: A young sub-saharan immigrant walk by the containers in the Tent Village, an open centre in Hal Far (which translates as "Rat's Town") on June 21, 2011. The Open Centres in Malta serve as a temporary accomodation facility, but they ended becoming permanent accomodation centres, except for those immigrants who receive subsidiary protection or refugee status and that are sent to countries such as the United States, Germany, Poland, and others. All immigrants who enter in Malta illegally are detained. Upon arrival to Malta, irregular migrants and asylum seekers are sent to one of three dedicated immigration detention facilities. Once apprehended by the authorities, immigrants remain in detention even after they apply for refugee status. detention lasts as long as it takes for asylum claims to be determined. This usually takes months; asylum seekers often wait five to 10 months for their first interview with the Refugee Commissioner. Asylum seekers may be detained for up to 12 months: at this point, if their claim is still pending, they are released and transferred to an Open Center.
Gianni Cipriano for The New York Times