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IS DETENTION OF IMMIGRANTS WISE PUBLIC POLICY?

 

Photograph taken outside of the Etowah County Detention Center (Gadsen, Alabama). The sign in the window reads: “We miss our kids.” Photograph credit: Miguel Angel Carpizo-Ituarte.   The accompanying story can be located on Huffington Post 

 

What is the Cost to U.S. Taxpayers of Detaining a Person

Who Cannot Prove They are in the Country Legally?

 

  • The average cost of detaining an immigrant is approximately $133/person per day. A typical detention center holds approximately 1100 persons for a minimum 3-4 week period.  However, some detainees are held for as long as six months.
  • The less costly alternatives to detention include a combination of reporting and electronic monitoring.  Studies show that these alternative methods are 90% cheaper and still yield an estimated 93% appearance rate before the immigration courts.
  • Alternatives to detention cost as little as 70 cents/day, which could ultimately save taxpayers up to $1.44 billion a year.

Visitor to ICE

Photograph outside of Adelanto, CA detention facility (Geo Group,Inc.)

Photo credit:  John Moore (2013) 

Aerial view of the Adelanto Detention Center. Source (GeoGroup, Inc.) 

LEGALITY:

 Critics argue that using jailed migrants as cheap labor violates the prohibition against slavery and involuntary servitude (except as punishment for a crime) in the 13th Amendment to the U.S.Constitution.

 

Undocumented workers in a tent city with prison inmates. (AZ) Photo credit: J. Moore (2010).

 

 

Photograph of the “Tent City Jail”  (capacity 2000) established in 1993 in Maricopa Ct. AZ.  

CRITIQUES AND SUGGESTED REFORMS

Freedom for Immigrants, “DETENTION OPERATED BY FOR-PROFIT COMPANIES IS COSTLY.”

REPORT: Searching for the Living, The Dead and the New Disappeared on the Migrant Trail in Texas

( Houston United Working Group on Migrant Deaths in South Texas 2013)