During the 2012 campaigns, both the President and Congressional representatives promised that 2013 would be the year in which American addressed immigration reform. However, thanks to a 2006 initiative passed “by conservative lawmakers,” the Department of Homeland Security has imprisoned “record numbers of immigrants.” The law is known as the “bed mandate” which requires US Immigration and Customs Enforcement have 34,000 detainees in custody every day.
The Washington Post reports that as illegal border-crossings from Mexico have “fallen to near their lowest levels since the early 1970s,” US officials are satisfying this quota “by reaching deeper into the criminal justice system to vacuum up foreign-born, legal US residents convicted of any crimes that could render them eligible for deportation.”
For example, Hector Barajas – recently profiled here on Opposing Views – was convicted of a crime, served his time, and was then summarily deported from the country despite his status as an Honorably Discharged US Army veteran. Although, many of the immigrant detainees are non-violent offenders and when they appear before a judge are often allowed to remain in the United States. Still they spend months in costly federal facilities in order to fulfill this quota rather than equipping them with simple electronic monitoring devices.
One such facility is in San Antonio, the Karnes County Civil Detention Center, in which detainees are called “residents” and sleep in “unlocked ‘suites’ with flat-screen TVs overlooking volleyball courts and soccer fields.” The center was built and is operated by a private contractor which is part of the United States’ growing private prison enterprise.
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For those who support the mandate, the argument is that it incentivizes border agents “to devote the maximum amount of resources to catching and deporting” those in the country illegally. There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the US.