Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Does the "Bed Mandate" Result in Overenforcement of the Immigration Laws?

Since the 1996 immigration reforms, the U.S. government has detained increasing numbers of immigrants in the name of immigration enforcement.  Indeed, there is a new growth industry in private immigrant detention.  Nick Miroff of the Washington Post reports on a deeply troubling aspect of incentives for immigrant detention in the United States. 

According to his report,

"In the past five years, Homeland Security officials have jailed record numbers of immigrants, driven by a little-known congressional directive known on Capitol Hill as the `bed mandate.'The policy requires U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to keep an average of 34,000 detainees per day in its custody, a quota that has steadily risen since it was established in 2006 by conservative lawmakers who insisted that the agency wasn’t doing enough to deport unlawful immigrants.

But as illegal crossings from Mexico have fallen to near their lowest levels since the early 1970s, ICE has been meeting Congress’s immigration detention goals by reaching deeper into the criminal justice system to vacuum up foreign-born, legal U.S. residents convicted of any crimes that could render them eligible for deportation. The agency also has greatly expanded the number of undocumented immigrants it takes into custody after traffic stops by local police."

The Post report is consistent with a recent TRAC report showing that fewer removal proceedings than in the recent past were based on criminal activity of any kind.


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