Thursday, February 13, 2014

Immigration Detention: Behind the Record Numbers

This Center of Migration Studies analyzes the latest immigrant detention data.  In FY 2012, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) detained a record 477,523 adult noncitizens. Since the Obama Administration announced its detention reform initiative in 2009, the number of noncitizens DHS detains yearly has increased by nearly 25 percent. Since passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIIRIRA) in 1996, it has expanded over fivefold. The increase in detention seems to stem, in part, from an even greater rise in use of summary removal processes applied to non-citizens, including asylum-seekers. In addition, looking behind the numbers suggests that persons in normal removal proceedings (before an Immigration Judge) face ever longer periods in detention.

Since passage of IIRIRA, DHS has widely implemented three types of summary removals: “expedited removal” for noncitizens who encounter immigration authorities at or near a US border with insufficient or fraudulent documents;“reinstatement of removal” for noncitizens who unlawfully reenter after a prior removal order; and “administrative removal,” for noncitizens without lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, but with a prior criminal conviction which is considered an “aggravated felony” under US immigration laws. All impose mandatory detention during the summary removal processes (with some limited exceptions, described below).

Removals under these summary processes now constitute the vast majority of U.S. removals in FY 2012. Nearly three-quarters of removals are via “expedited removal” (39 percent) or “reinstatement of removal” (35.6 percent), not including “administrative removals” which DHS does not report.[6] These two forms of summary removal increased from 56.2 percent of all removals in FY 2009 to nearly 75 percent in FY 2012. Meanwhile, while detention has also increased since FY 2009—24.5 percent in numeric terms—total removals have remained flatter, only increasing 6.5 percent since FY 2009. The increase in summary removals tracks the increase in detention.


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