Friday, May 8, 2015

Action Alert: Tell Congress to #EndtheQuota

Since the start of fiscal year 2010, Congress has allocated Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) the funds to incarcerate over 33,000 immigrants in deportation proceedings each day (increased to 34,000 in 2013). This is known as the immigrant detention bed quota. In fiscal year 2014, 32,163 immigrants were detained every day at the cost of $2 billion dollars.[1] More than a blatant misuse of tax dollars, the quota wreaks havoc on immigrant communities, ramping up the deportation and separation of families.

Senator Robert Byrd (WV) inserted the quota into the 2010 appropriations bill under guise of providing enough detention beds for immigrants going through deportation proceedings. It is the only legally mandated quota system within all federal and state agencies. From the start, it has served as profit motive for private prison companies like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group. Between 2008-2014 CCA spent $9.8 million dollars lobbying the DHS Appropriations Subcommittee, the home of the bed quota. Since 2009, the industry’s share of immigrant detention beds has increased by 13 percent; now, these companies operate sixty-two percent of immigration detention beds.[2]

While detaining immigrants to ensure they show up for court should be a last resort, the bed quota encourages it. In 2013, ICE detained nearly 441,000 immigrants.[3] Many of those incarcerated include asylum seekers, Central American families, and survivors of torture and trafficking. Effective alternatives to detention (ATD) exist, such as release on recognizance or bond, or monitoring with ankle bracelets. ATDs range from a few dollars to $22 per person per day.[4] This is a fraction of the $164 per day spent per person in detention. [5]

In the House, Congressmen Ted Deutch (D-FL) & Bill Foster (D-IL) will introduce an amendment to strike the quota language in the fiscal year 2016 appropriations bill (which is negotiated in early fall). The Senate has yet to introduce a similar amendment.

Implications of Quota

The quota has created further incentive for the collaboration between local police and immigration authorities in order to apprehend and incarcerate more undocumented immigrants. ICE’s program Secure Communities, begun in 2008 and recently replaced with the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP-Comm), has created a national database for immigration violations, allowing local traffic stops to turn into immigration proceedings.[6] This incentive also shines through “show me your papers” laws like Arizona’s S.B. 1070, which urges police officers to identify residents they suspect to be undocumented, resulting in gross racial profiling.[7]
Source: Huffington Post

While Congress languishes on legislating any meaningful immigration reform, the quota remains. Private prison facilities cut corners to cut costs: the facilities are often understaffed, medical care and nutrition is reported as inadequate, and sexual abuse is rampant.[8]

It results in more people being ripped from their communities, detained and then deported. In 2013 alone, 438,000 undocumented immigrants were deported.[9] Under the Obama administration, over two million people have been deported.[10]

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Policy

In 2003the 215th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) published a “Resolution Calling for the Abolition of For-Profit Private Prisons,” stating, “the question of whether human beings should be incarcerated…cannot be answered by whether or not these steps will create profit for a corporation.”

Six years of this quota are too many. Let Congress know that you want to #EndtheQuota.


Learn more about the bed quota here.

[4] Alternatives to Detention (ATD) History and Recommendations. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
[5] The Math of Immigration Detention, National Immigration Forum,
[9] Includes immigrants apprehended at the border and returned, as well as in-country removals