Today, I’m pleased to share the thoughts of LIRS Director for Advocacy Brittney Nystrom, who sat in on yesterday’s hearing on immigration detention before the House Judiciary Committee.
Last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained 429,000 migrants and refugees in a labyrinth of immigration detention facilities. The practice of detaining so many individuals is enormously expensive, and better alternatives exist. Questions about the wisdom of detaining so many people in tight fiscal times are now coming from both sides of the aisle.
At yesterday’s hearing, a Republican congressman from Alabama, Rep. Spencer Bachus, demanded some answers to questions that we here at LIRS have also been asking.
Congressman Bachus asked ICE Director John Morton several questions about the use of detention to enforce civil immigration laws. The congressman wanted to know,:
- “Why don’t you do a risk analysis on the detained population? Some of these people are relatives of U.S. citizens, people who came here as children.”
- “If they’re not violent, if they’re not repeat offenders, why detain them at all?”
- “Why do we spend $164/day to detain these individuals?”
The congressman appeared to answer his own questions with this astute observation: “I would suggest there is an overuse of detention.”