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Report: Immigration detention costs U.S. taxpayers over $2 billion each year

Published: Oct 6, 2011 2:30 pm By: Human Rights First

Human Rights First (HRF) has issued a report entitled Jails and Jumpsuits - Transforming the U.S. Immigration Detention System—A Two-Year Review.  The purpose of the investigation was to "review the progress of DHS and ICE in transforming the U.S. immigration detention system away from its reliance on jails and jail-like facilities to a system with conditions more appropriate for civil immigration law detainees."

HRF visited 17 ICE authorized detention facilities holding 10,000 of the 33,400 total ICE beds; interviewed government officials, legal service providers, and former immigration detainees; and reviewed existing government data on the U.S. immigration detention system. They also interviewed a range of former prison wardens, corrections officials, and other experts on correctional systems.  

The primary findings of the report are as follows:

  • Asylum seekers and other immigrants are still overwhelmingly held in jails and jail-like facilities;
  • Immigration detention costs U.S. taxpayers over $2 billion each year;
  • ICE continues to rely on detention standards modeled on correctional standards;
  • ICE has taken some steps toward less penal detention conditions, but only a small portion of detainees will see change;
  • ICE has not expanded cost-effective alternatives to detention nationwide, and asylum seekers and other immigration detainees continue to be detained unnecessarily, and at substantial cost, due to lack of effective release procedures; and
  • Detained asylum seekers and other immigrants do not have adequate access to legal assistance and fair procedures, particularly in isolated detention facilities.

Click here to read the full report.

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