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House Members Call For End To Detention Bed Mandate

Jan 21, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressmen Bill Foster (IL-11), Ted Deutch (FL-21) and 52 Members of Congress are calling on the Administration to oppose the detention bed mandate as they complete the President’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget request.  The detention bed mandate is a costly and inhumane directive in the appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that requires Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to have at least 34,000 immigrants in detention at all times.

A copy of the letter submitted to the Office of Management and Budget is available here.

“Mandatory detention comes at a high cost both for taxpayers and families who are torn apart,” said Foster. “Not only is this quota fiscally irresponsible, but it makes it impossible for DHS to make rational decisions about detention based on enforcement priorities and needs. It is time to end this costly and unjust practice.”

“No other law enforcement agency is forced to operate under a quota for the number of people it must keep in jail each day,” said Congressman Ted Deutch, a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee. “The decision to spend $160 keeping someone in a for-profit detention facility or use a far less expensive option, like ankle bracelets or supervised release, should be the decision of officials working for ICE and not politicians in Washington. The detention bed mandate is costly and unjust and it should be left out of the President’s budget.”

In response to a similar request made last year, the Administration expressed their opposition to mandatory quotas.  More information is available here.

Immigration detention costs the United States $2 billion a year, which equates to $5.05 million a day, or $159 a day per detainee. ICE has continued to use detention as the primary method for immigrants facing deportation, despite other proven and less costly and more humane methods, like ankle bracelets and supervised release, that cost the federal government anywhere from 70 cents to $17 a day.

Moreover, immigration detention is not used to jail immigrants for criminal offenses, but instead is used to detain immigrants with civil charges related to their immigration status. If an immigrant commits a crime, their crimes are prosecuted through the criminal court system and they serve time in jail for their offenses.

Members of Congress signing the letter include Karen Bass, Tony Cardenas, Kathy Castor, Joaquin Castro, David Cicilline, John Conyers, Diana DeGette, John Delaney, Suzan DelBene, Ted Deutch, Lloyd Doggett, Keith Ellison, Anna Eshoo, Elizabeth Esty, Sam Farr, Bill Foster, Lois Frankel, Al Green, Raul Grijalva, Luis Gutierrez, Alcee Hastings, Ruben Hinojosa, Michael Honda, Hank Johnson, Joseph Kennedy, Derek Kilmer, Ron Kind, Rick Larsen, Barbara Lee, John Lewis, Zoe Lofgren, Alan Lowenthal, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Carolyn Maloney, Betty McCollum, Jim McDermott, James McGovern, Gwen Moore, Beto O’Rourke, Collin Peterson, Chellie Pingree, Jared Polis, Mike Quigley, Jan Schakowsky, Jose Serrano, Adam Smith, Eric Swalwell, Dina Titus, Paul Tonko, Chris Van Hollen, Juan Vargas, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Frederica Wilson.