Action via @NIJC: Tell Congress & Obama: Say No to Detention Bed Quotas
via Jennifer Chan:
Congress returns this week from its summer recess, and will be taking up immigration reform sometime this fall. In the meantime, some representatives are building momentum to finally bring an end to the irresponsible notion that our country’s immigration enforcement policies should be driven by an arbitrary quota.
Representatives Bill Foster (D-IL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) are circulating a letter this week to their colleagues in the House of Representatives asking them to call on the White House to remove the immigration detention bed mandate from its fiscal year 2015 budget request.
Currently, Congress requires U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain at least 34,000 immigrants at all times under the annual Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill. President Obama also included a similar figure in his fiscal year 2014 budget request. In June, Representatives Foster and Deutch received unprecedented bipartisan support to remove the detention bed mandate from the DHS Appropriations bill, but it wasn’t enough to defeat the misguided pro-enforcement vote that enabled the mandate to survive.
No other law enforcement agency in the country is driven by a requirement that it fill its jails at all times — because this approach just doesn’t make sense. In an environment of fiscal restraint, the detention bed mandate is a poor use of government resources. Immigration detention costs the United States over $2 billion a year, or $5.05 million a day and $159 a day per individual. More humane alternatives to detention have proven effective and ensure that individuals attend their court dates and fulfill immigration judges’ orders — at a cost of only 70 cents to $17 a day.
The detention bed quota also undermines any attempts to reduce immigrant incarceration and end human rights violations in the system. Most detained immigrants are held in county jails or facilities run by private prison corporations, often hundreds of miles from legal counsel and anyone they know. Human rights abuses have been well documented at facilities across the country. Many immigrants in the system have strong ties to their communities and no criminal record, yet they must fight their cases from a jail—all so DHS can reach a quota.
Thanks for speaking out.