A little-known bed quota implemented by Congress is requiring the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to maintain holding space for 34,000 immigrants per day, despite current immigration trends or needs. The editors from the Bloomberg View stated:
“Imagine if Congress mandated that an arbitrary number of jail cells be filled with prisoners—regardless of the crime rate. Authorities would be required to incarcerate people, no matter the circumstances or the affront to human rights. That’s basically the state of immigration detention in the U.S.”
This irrational requirement functions at a high-cost of $2 billion each year and is leading to the mistreatment of individuals, while causing the economy to take a direct hit.
A Singaporean man that had legally immigrated to the U.S. as a child was arrested in 2005 for drug possession, after he unknowingly pleaded guilty to an aggravated felony. He served his sentence, which was stated to be solely probation and rehabilitation.
However, in 2011, ICE officers arrived at his door and placed him under arrest again. The man was kept at the South Texas Detention Center, which is a private prison maintained by the profiting GEO group. He was held in prison for 313 days, with no access to legal counsel and no questions answered. He was there to fill the quota, at a taxpayer expense of nearly $50,000.
In particular, LGBT immigrants are being placed in high-risk situations. Statistics from NGO’s show that these people are 15 times more likely to be sexually assaulted while detained.
Although ICE uses a risk classification assessment (RCA) that proves LGBT detainees to be classified as a special vulnerability, the bed quota allows ICE officers to continue subjecting these individuals to danger.
Removing the quota would save taxpayers up to $1.44 billion per year and prevent tens of thousands from being unnecessarily imprisoned. Expediting the immigration and naturalization process would prove extremely beneficial to the U.S. economy by increasing earnings nationwide and increasing the tax revenue, while allowing others to experience the opportunity that has been given to Americans for decades.
Chandler is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.