Detention Means Big Money for For-Profit Prisons

The Center for American Progress this month launched a series of infographics on the bed quota. Check them out!

A congressional mandate requires that Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, maintain bed space to detain 34,000 immigrants per day at an annual cost of more than $2 billion. This arbitrary number is unrelated to the agency’s actual bed-space needs, wasting taxpayer dollars and placing immigrants at risk of abuse and mistreatment in detention facilities. The detention bed quota increases revenue for for-profit prisons.

The bed quota wastes taxpayer dollars that could instead go toward vital housing assistance services.

While immigrants spend one month in detention on average, those fighting deportation cases are detained for more than three times as long, sometimes even for years.

In order to fulfill the quota, ICE is detaining people who would otherwise be eligible for release.

In the past decade, detention bed space has nearly doubled, and spending has increased more than 40 percent.


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