Believe it or not, the U.S. Congress several years ago passed a provision that requires the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to keep a minimum of 33,400 illegal immigrants locked up at all times. In California and throughout the country, the average detention cost is $120 per day. This has cost the taxpayers $2 billion per year. The Obama White House recently made budget requests to cut the immigration quota but the U.S. Congress has rebuffed those efforts.
ICE could use measures that cost a few dollars a day such as ankle bracelets or supervised release to monitor the immigrants. Thus, right now alleged immigration violators are kept according to an arbitrary quota instead of according to public-safety threats, level of offense, or other rational standards. For example, one 21-year-old woman who worked in a grocery store under an assumed name was detained and put into an immigration detention center.
The woman came here at age three. She did not have the $465 application fee for amnesty under a 2012 Obama administration program for immigrants moving family members to the United States as children. She was held in the detention prison regardless of her deportation defense. She was recently released and says that the case was dropped.
The prison that she was incarcerated in is run by Corrections Corp. of America (CCA), a private prison that rakes in billions in contracts with the federal government each year. Such private corporations lobby the government avariciously to sustain their expected contract levels each year. As nonviolent drug offenders are incarcerated less frequently under recent federal policy changes, CCA and other corporations demand and expect to continue enjoying the gravy train generated from the arbitrary quota system requiring over 33,000 immigration incarcerations at all times.
In California and nationally, economic and other societal factors call for lower immigration detentions at this time. ICE, however, is locking up and deporting more illegal immigrants than ever before. The agency is spending more mindlessly in order to meet the quota. One member of the U.S. House of Representatives presented a proposal to eliminate a quota, saying that no other law-enforcement agencies work under a minimum requirement. Republicans objected and the measure failed.
Source: businessweek.com, Congress’s Illegal-Immigration Detention Quota Costs $2 Billion a Year, William Selway and Margaret Newkirk, Sept. 26, 2013