To the Editor:
Every day the federal government keeps 34,000 immigrants locked up in detention because Congress has mandated an immigration detention bed “quota.”
This means that no matter how many immigrants are actually in the system or what the real national security needs are at the time, our government through this mandate is forced to keep 34,000 immigrants locked up every day. This is at a cost of more than $2 billion annually for American taxpayers.
Of course, it is important for individuals who pose a threat to our communities to remain in detention. However, of those detained from 2009 to 2011, half of the immigrant detainees had no criminal history but were detained to achieve the quota. Keep in mind that percentage of people did not need to remain detained in order to attend court dates or to comply with court orders. With these immigrants, courts could employ alternatives to detention such as GPS ankle monitors that would save tax-payers money while keeping families together pending the outcome of their cases.
Think $2 billion extra that could be suited for education support, infrastructure and other important programs our country needs. Unfortunately, Immigration and Customs En-forcement (ICE) must keep people in detention simply to meet a quota. ICE is the only law enforcement agency required to lock people up to meet quotas.
Indeed, this quota creates a ripple effect that further impacts local and state governments. It is not uncommon to hear about local law enforcement agencies arresting individuals for speeding or driving without a license and keeping them in detention, not because they are a danger but because ICE must be given the opportunity to main-tain people in detention.
The bed quotas also place undue pressure on immigration agents who now must work to meet the quota rather than meet the needs of our country. The continuation of such policies is wasteful and inhumane. Congress has got to eliminate these policies and the bipartisan mentality in order to improve our great country and get us back on track.