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New Policy Brief: Ending the Use of Immigration Detention to Deter Migration

April 20, 2015

deterrence2DWN’s new policy brief, Ending the Use of Immigration Detention to Deter Migration, examines the inappropriate use of deterrence as a rationale for immigration detention. In light of the recent lawsuit RILR v. Johnson, Ending the Use of Immigration Detention to Deter Migration, provides a broader context of the use of deterrence in immigration detention as a misguided practice of an overall system that seeks to punish and criminalize immigrants.

The lawsuit filed by the ACLU, UT Law School and pro bono Counsel challenges the deterrence-driven no release policy for detained mothers and children with positive credible fear interview determinations (that is, families who the government has found are likely to get asylum once they go through full proceedings). Deterrence as a specific consideration during supposedly individualized custody determinations marks a new level of aggressive and inappropriate use, and it is currently affecting many asylum-seekers, not just families.  

The root of this idea, that you can punish people to stop them (and others) from seeking safety, disregards constitutional protections and the United States’  international obligations. Deterrence has no place in our immigration detention system and is certainly no justification for depriving people of their liberty. 

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