Skip to content

Introduction of Amendment in Senate to Eliminate Detention Bed Quota!

September 28, 2015

We’re very excited to share that Senator Coons will be introducing an amendment to eliminate the detention bed quota–the first ever amendment in the Senate on this issue! Unfortunately, we have a tight timeline–until tomorrow morning–to convince other Senators to co-sponsor the amendment to show how many lawmakers agree that it’s long past time to remove this arbitrary and unjust quota from the DHS budget.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Call your Senators TODAY and ask them to support Senator Coons’ amendment to strike the bed quota language. Feel free to use these talking points (though you can find much more information here, here and here):

  • Detention operates on a quota system that strives to keep 34,000 immigrants imprisoned each day.
    • Congress requires ICE to maintain a daily quota of 34,000 detention beds and makes ICE’s funding contingent on doing so. No other law enforcement agency is forced to operate on a quota system.
    • The quota pushes ICE to find immigrants to detain and to continue operating facilities with subpar conditions and track records of abuse.
  • Detention is expensive – there is a human cost to our communities and a monetary cost to taxpayers.
    • Current detention policy–driven in large part by an arbitrarily-set quota–means that the families and communities of nearly half a million people are torn apart each year.
    • The most recent budget request for ICE’s Custody Operations is just over $2 billion. During a time of fiscal crisis, it is unacceptable to be spending billions of taxpayer dollars to needlessly detain immigrants. This is a complete waste of resources when other proven and effective methods—including parole, release under supervision, and bond— cost taxpayers far less than detention.
  • Private prison corporations lobby for policies like the bed quota which keep immigrants in detention.
    • Nearly 60% of detention beds are in facilities run by private prison corporations, which rake in profits from the incarceration of immigrants.

2. If they are willing to co-sponsor, they should get in touch with Dan Bachner (202-228-1993 and

For questions please contact:

Mary Small-

Office: 202-846-7058/Cell: 336-339-3918

Listen via @CMSNewYork: Reform of the US Immigrant Detention System

September 18, 2015

Panel on Family Detention, Privatization, and Lessons from the Criminal Justice and National Security Debates: September 17, 2015

While the dramatic expansion of privately-run, family detention facilities has been the focus of the recent debate on the US immigrant detention system, there has been a far longer debate on the system’s overall viability. Most recently, a report by the Center for Migration Studies and Migration and Refugee Services of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops argued that the current system should be dismantled and entirely re-conceived.

This panel of diverse experts discussed the future of the US immigrant detention system, ideas for and barriers to reform, the system’s growing privatization, the experience of family detention in Texas, and cross-cutting issues and lessons from the criminal justice and national security field.

Donald Kerwin
Executive Director, Center for Migration Studies

Susan L. Burke
Attorney at Law, Burke PLLC

Mark Dow
Author, American Gulag: Inside U.S. Immigration Prisons

Judith Green
Justice Policy Analyst and Director, Justice Strategies

Michelle Mendez
Training and Legal Support Staff Attorney,
Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)

DWN Call Flores Decision a Resounding Victory for Human Rights As Judge Rules Against Family Detention

July 27, 2015


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, 27 July 2015

Experts Call Flores Decision a Resounding Victory for Human Rights As Judge Rules Against Family Detention

Detention Watch Network Urges Obama Administration to Accept Decision

Statement from Mary Small, Policy Director of Detention Watch Network in response to Friday’s ruling that the Obama administration’s continued detention of refugee children and mothers is illegal:

“This long overdue decision is an encouraging victory for the rights of asylum-seeking women and children locked up in family detention centers. Friday’s ruling confirms what we have long known– that the Obama administration’s revival of family detention is a failed policy that is an appalling stain on the United States’ human rights record. We call on DHS to allow this decision to stand, release women and children immediately and close all family detention centers once and for all.

Read more…

Detention Watch Network Encouraged to See Families Released, But Concerned with Dehumanizing Alternatives Proposed

July 14, 2015


For Immediate Release: July 14, 2015

Contact: Molly Haigh :

Detention Watch Network Encouraged to See Families Released,

But Concerned with Dehumanizing Alternatives Proposed

Statement from Silky Shah, Co-Director of the Detention Watch Network in response to yesterday’s announcement on family detention issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement:

“Under increasing pressure, the Obama administration is finally taking steps to limit the prolonged incarceration of mothers and children. The detention system is rife with human rights abuses, appalling medical care lapses, and glaring due process violations. By the government’s own measure, the vast majority of detained women and children should be treated as refugees and immediately released.

Instead, while ICE has finally acknowledged that they should not continue a blanket policy of detaining mothers and children who have a legitimate fear of returning to their countries of origin, ICE has simply replaced one blanket decision with another–this time to fit all mothers with unnecessary and dehumanizing ankle GPS monitoring devices.

Read more…

#EndDetention Week of Action & New Voices from Detention

July 7, 2015

NEW Voices from Detention

To kickoff the week of action to end immigrant detention, Detention Watch Network is releasing a new video in our Voices from Detention series.
Voices from Detention brings forward the voices of those most impacted by the unjust immigration detention system via audio phone recordings from people locked up inside detention centers.

Meet Lissett and Alexis – Listen to their story

Lissett Pineda and her 11-year-old son, Alexis, fled Honduras after learning about the death of one of Alexis’ close friends, emblematic of the escalating violence throughout the region. Lissett feared for her son’s life and was willing to do anything to protect him. She came to the United States seeking asylum and instead was met with bars at the Karnes Family Detention Center in Karnes City, Texas. It was there that Lissett and Alexis spent nine months locked up.

Read more…

New DWN and CCR Report: Financial Market for Immigrant Detention Exposed

June 11, 2015


New Report: Financial Market for Immigrant Detention Exposed

Report Explores Widespread Use of Local Guaranteed Minimum Contracts in Detaining Immigrants in LA, Phoenix, Houston, Miami, San Antonio, San Diego, and More

REPORTWashington, DC – A new report, “Banking on Detention: Local Lockup Quotas and the Immigrant Dragnet” released today by Detention Watch Network and the Center for Constitutional Rights explores and exposes the depth of local lockup quotas in immigrant detention across 15 facilities in half of ICE’s field offices under the Obama Administration.

Major areas with local quotas include: Los Angeles, San Antonio, Phoenix, Miami, Seattle, Houston, San Diego, Buffalo, New Orleans, and Newark.

Read more…

ICE’s New Family Detention Policies Nothing More Than a Delay Tactic, No Meaningful Changes

May 14, 2015


For Immediate Release: May 14, 2015

Contact: Molly Haigh,

DWN: ICE’s New Family Detention Policies Nothing More Than a Delay Tactic, No Meaningful Changes

Statement from Detention Watch Network Co-Director Silky Shah on ICE’s new policies on family detention:

“After successful litigation and months of actions against family detention, including a rally of 600 at Dilley earlier this month, ICE is clearly feeling pressure to address concerns around family detention. Unfortunately their new policy is nothing more than a delay tactic. ICE’s new ‘standards’ for detaining families still don’t meet the basic standards of human decency or rights. Putting women and children fleeing violence behind bars is appalling— and ICE’s latest moves change nothing on that front. It’s time for the Obama Administration and ICE to end their failed family detention program, and close these facilities once and for all. It’s time to remove this stain from America’s human rights record.”