Monday, October 25, 2021

MPI Report--From Jailers to Case Managers: Redesigning the U.S. Immigration Detention System to Be Effective and Fair

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From Jailers to Case Managers: Redesigning the U.S. Immigration Detention System to Be Effective and Fair is a recent MPI report authored by Randy Capps and Doris Meissner.

The report begins by noting that the "sprawling immigration detention system" in the United States "has long been controversial for its prisonlike conditions and health risks." The authors note that this detention also comes with a hefty price tag: $2.8 billion annually.

The authors envision something altogether different:

replacing the longstanding system of detention for most immigrant adults apprehended in the U.S. interior and at least initially for many of those who arrive at the border without authorization and seek asylum, with a system that makes release with supervision and case management (i.e., monitoring, check-ins, legal advice, and other support services) the prevailing method for exercising immigration custody whenever possible. A redesigned system would also need to attend to the situation of apprehended families with children, as by court order they cannot be detained for lengthy periods. It does not address the custody system for unaccompanied children, whose cases are governed by separate statutes and requirements managed by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Here are their key points:

  • Detain individuals who pose public safety risks.
  • Use the least restrictive feasible custody options.
  • Provide legal counsel, case management, and social services.
  • Design nondetention custody options to ensure that immigrants appear in immigration court and comply with the removal process.

In the end, they write: "responding to current and likely future immigration realities both at U.S. borders and in the interior calls for rethinking the role and nature of the immigration custody system, steering it away from a punitive, detention-centered approach and toward more proportionate and cost-effective policies that still ensure compliance with immigration court and removal proceedings."


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