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House Appropriations Committee Approves $147 Million More to Detain Immigrants

May 23, 2013
tags: ,
For Immediate Release: May 23, 2013
Contact: Silky Shah, sshah@detentionwatchnetwork.org
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House Appropriations Committee Approves $147 Million More to Detain Immigrants

Congress Must Act to Repeal Mandatory Detention

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee approved the 2014 budget for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), adding $147 million above what the White House requested to maintain an arbitrary quota of 34,000 detention beds. The Appropriations Committee also increased funding for deportation programs that funnel immigrants into detention. Andrea Black, Executive Director of Detention Watch Network, issued the following statement:

“It is deeply concerning that the House Appropriations Committee has ignored the budget recommendations of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and plans to spend an additional $147 million on detention in 2014. Congress needs to reduce the number of people being detained instead of requiring DHS to keep an arbitrary number of beds filled regardless of their programmatic needs. The immigration jail system has expanded exponentially in the last 10 years and more and more immigrants are incarcerated in appalling conditions, with no knowledge of when or if they will be released. The 34,000 bed mandate, essentially a quota system, exacerbates the inhumanity by requiring a certain number of immigrants to be held behind bars. Meanwhile, detaining immigrants has become a billion-dollar industry for private prisons, which house 50 percent of those in custody. This flies counter to American values of due process and fairness.

The decision by the House Appropriations Committee comes just months after Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) raised concerns that there was an ‘overuse’ of immigration detention. Detention has become mostly arbitrary in large part due to the policy of mandatory detention, which requires indiscriminate detention of immigrants without a review of their individual circumstances. In order to restore fairness to the system, Congress must repeal mandatory detention. Until the passage of immigration reform, President Obama should put a moratorium on detention and deportations.”

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