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Congress’ Detention Bed Quota: Bad Policy We Must End

Under Congress’ detention bed “quota”, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is required to keep 34,000 immigrants locked up per day. This quota, which has been in effect since 2007, costs American taxpayers about $2 billion per year. ICE agents are pressured to meet this quota, rather than work to meet the needs of our country. As a result, non-citizens that have committed relatively minor, non-violent crimes or have no criminal histories at all are locked up. ICE really should be focused on detention of more terrorists and violent criminals to protect our national security. The quota is a waste of taxpayers’ money since cheaper alternatives, such as GPS ankle monitors, could be used to monitor non-violent immigrants.

I was not fully aware of this quota until I had first hand experience this past month representing an immigrant who was brought into detention for a non-violent crime that was committed 13 years ago. She has been a lawful permanent resident since 1981 and after the criminal conviction in 2001, she was rehabilitated and is now a manager at a retail store, graduated from college, and volunteers with local charities among other things. ICE clearly only detained her to meet its quota. Due to her detention, her family, which includes US citizen parents and sister, was devastated. What good does detaining someone like her do for our country? This policy tears families apart, does not benefit national security, and is a waste of money. This policy must be ended!

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