Imagine a criminal justice system that required police to make sure 34,000 people filled its cells every night, regardless of crime, severity or conviction.
While that sounds improbable, it is exactly how the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement goes about its business following a 2009 Congressional mandate. Under the requirements, the agency must fill 34,000 detainee beds in its system every night at an annual cost of $2 billion to taxpayers.
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL,11), along with U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, (D-FL,21), praised the Obama administration’s recent letter opposing the requirement last week, and put renewed energy behind their fight to end ICE detention quotas. Earlier this year, the two legislators introduced a measure to make undocumented immigrants more aware of their rights and set up an Office of Legal Access Programs. The legislation is called the Immigrant Detainee Legal Rights Act H.R. 3914.
“The budget issues are not lost on either party,’’ Foster said, noting that a policy based on need rather than an arbitrary quota could cut the cost of detentions by $1.4 billion. “That’s why we have bipartisan support.’’