Monday, May 12, 2014
The Dangerous and Costly Effects of Detainee Bed Quotas
New Center for American Progress analysis and infographics detail the dangerous and costly toll of the congressionally mandated bed quota on our immigration system. Beginning in 2009, Congress directed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, to detain a set number of immigrants each day in an attempt to force the department to increase deportations. Today, this arbitrary congressional quota requires that DHS maintain enough bed space to jail 34,000 immigrants every day—regardless of DHS’s actual need to detain immigrants and at a cost of more than $2 billion per year.
The bed quota restricts Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s, or ICE’s, ability to make individualized custody determinations, such as release on bond or placement in less restrictive and less costly alternatives to detention, which take into account the particular vulnerabilities of immigrants, particularly those from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, community.
An estimated 70 percent of immigrants in detention facilities fall into the mandatory detention category; this means that 30 percent of the 34,000 immigrants detained each day would be eligible for release if not for the quota. Removing the quota would save taxpayers at least $600 million per year and prevent tens of thousands of people from unnecessary imprisonment.
CAP’s analysis examines the risks of detention, the obstacles to release in our current system, and the increased risk of detention for LGBT undocumented immigrants. The infographics offer perspective on how much the United States spends on bed quotas each year, immigrants’ extended stays in detention—particularly for those fighting deportation—and how the tax dollars used to enforce the quota mean big money for for-profit prisons.
Read the analysis here.