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Reps. Foster, Deutch Urging OMB to Remove Immigrant Detention Bed Quota from 2015 Budget

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Toward the end of last year, we wrote about the outrage that is the immigrant detention bed quota/mandate, an inhumane and nonsensical practice that requires ICE to detain at least 34,000 people every day in detention facilities regardless of what they might have done (or not done) to get there or what the current state of immigration is like.  Net migration into the US is zero, or even less?  Thirty-four thousand detention beds must still be filled.  Immigrants are detained for nothing more than having a broken tail light?  Too bad, because those 34,000 beds are still waiting.  The arbitrary quota is also the reason why the Obama Administration has deported roughly 400,000 immigrants every year.

This week, Reps. Bill Foster (D-IL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) — two Congressmen who have led efforts to end the grossly expensive system in the past — joined 26 members of Congress in urging the Obama administration to end the detention bed mandate.  In a letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Sylvia Matthews Burwell, the group is asking OMB to remove the mandate from the President’s 2015 budget request.

View a copy of their letter here.

As the Members of Congress wrote:

Such a requirement is contrary to the best practices of law enforcement.  Indeed, no other law enforcement agencies have quotas on the number of people they must keep in jail.  Eliminating the mandate would bring ICE in line with the best practices of law enforcement agencies, which are to use detention beds based on actual need and the potential risks posed by individual detainees.

Moreover, the detention bed mandate is costly.  The Department of Homeland Security spends more than $2 billion per year on immigration detention, or $5.5 million per day.  It costs approximately $159 per day to detain an individual.  Instead, ICE should be considering alternatives detention, including ankle bracelets, curfews, telephonic and in person reporting.  Such alternatives cost between $.70 and $17 per person, per day.

We therefore urge the Administration to firmly oppose the detention bed mandate in the President’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget request and support providing ICE with the tools they need to consider alternatives to detention for eligible detainees.