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Detention Quota Holds Firm Despite Decline in Illegal Immigration


Jul 12, 2013

"As Congress weighs sweeping changes to the U.S. immigration system, one thing is unlikely to change: a requirement that the government lock up more undocumented immigrants than it says is necessary. Despite tight budgets and declining illegal immigration, Congress requires the Department of Homeland Security to hold about 34,000 people a day in centers for detainees facing possible deportation. That's at least 2,000 more than the Obama administration says is necessary, representing an added cost of about $132 million a year, critics say. The daily quota, which began in 2007, appears to be unique in the world of law enforcement, where patrol officers and prison and jail managers typically are not told how many people they need to keep behind bars. The policy, driven by law-and-order advocates in both parties who say the government could do more to crack down on illegal immigration, helps explain why detention costs for undocumented immigrants have more than doubled since 2006, to $2.8 billion annually. The rise has occurred even as the number of those caught along U.S. borders has fallen by two-thirds, according to government statistics." - Reuters

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