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Rules Committee Rejects Deutch-Foster Amendment to End Detention Bed Mandate

Sep 30, 2015
Press Release

The House Rules Committee has rejected an amendment authored by U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch (FL-21) and Bill Foster (IL-11), along with Reps. Adam Smith (WA-9), Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), and Jared Polis (CO-2) that would have struck the costly and inhumane immigrant detention bed quota from the short-term Continuing Resolution for Fiscal Year 2016. The detention bed quota, which requires U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to maintain an average of 34,000 immigrant detainees each day, comes at a great cost to taxpayers, families, and communities. Enforcing the quota costs taxpayers $2 billion a year, as detaining individuals in for-profit facilities at an average of $164 day is far more expensive than proven alternatives, such as ankle bracelets and telephonic reporting, are just as effective and cost on average fewer than six dollars a day. 

By eliminating the misguided detention bed mandate, the legislation offered by Reps. Deutch, Foster, Smith, Watson Coleman, Castro, and Polis would restore discretion to law enforcement, avoid tearing families apart for no reason, and save taxpayers an estimated $1.44 billion a year. 

“The decision to detain someone should be made on a case-by-case basis by professionals in law enforcement, not by politicians in Washington, and not as a result of prepaid bed quotas,” said Congressman Ted Deutch, who earlier this year introduced the Protecting Taxpayers and Communities from Local Detention Quotas Act to bar the inclusion of guaranteed bed minimums in detention center contracts with ICE. 

“Mandatory detention comes at a high cost both for taxpayers and families who are torn apart,” said Congressman 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 for House Republicans to listen to reason and end this costly and unjust practice.”

“Due in large part to the misguided detention bed mandate, large, for-profit prison corporations that have the resources to build and maintain detention centers are left in charge of operating these facilities at a high cost to taxpayers, detainees and families of those affected,” said Congressman Adam Smith, who has introduced the Accountability in Immigration Detention Act to address our broken immigration policy. 

“From the unnecessary burden it places on taxpayers, to the dehumanizing effect it has on individuals who are often seeking refuge here in the U.S., the completely arbitrary policy of requiring ICE to hold a quota of immigrants flies in the face of everything that this nation stands for,” said Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman. “It’s a policy that has never belonged in law, and it’s a glaring example of our faulty immigration system - one that we must correct immediately.”

“Eliminating this bed mandate would allow us to focus on detaining criminals, not locking up people seeking asylum who pose no security threat,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro. 

“The detention bed mandate is the worst kind of bureaucracy,” Congressman Jared Polis said. “It forces the government to spend billions of dollars tearing apart immigrant families when readily available alternatives like supervised release and community-based programs are much cheaper and far more humane. There is no fiscal or public-safety reason to keep this inhumane mandate in place.