Recent reports show that United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detains more than 400,000 illegal immigrants for a number of different offenses, costing the government upwards of $2 billion a year.
The illegal immigrants that are being held at 250 prisons are detained for a variety of reasons, some for violent crimes, and others for mere traffic violations. The government is spending large amounts of money to keep illegal immigrants detained before they are deported, regardless of whether or not they’ve committed a crime that warrants any jail time.
Now, Congress has passed a federal mandate calling for 34,000 new beds in prisons across the country, all despite the large number of illegal immigrants being detained for no reason other than being here illegally.
Congress rejected White House proposals for less expensive measures, such as ankle bracelets, that would keep track of illegal immigrants prior to them being deported, rather than keep them in jail. Former secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano says that keeping illegal immigrants imprisoned while they are going through deportation hearings is a waste of time and money.
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“We ought to be detaining according to our priorities,” said Napolitano, “according to public-safety threats, level of offense, and the like, not an arbitrary bed number.”
Representative Ted Deutch agrees, saying that it does nothing positive to stop illegal immigrants, and is more of a problem than a solution.
“No other law-enforcement agencies have a quota for the number of people that they must keep in jail,” said Deutch. “Mandating ICE detain 34,000 individuals a day does not secure our borders or make us safer.”
The recent congressional mandate for 34,000 new beds in prisons to accommodate illegal immigrant detainees is only adding to the fact that billions of dollars a year are spent on detaining these people. Lawmakers are fighting to find less expensive solutions to keeping track of illegal immigrants and end the mandate.