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A new report, ICE Lies: Public Deception, Private Profit, released today by Detention Watch Network and the National Immigrant Justice Center, exposes Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) egregious patterns of fiscal irresponsibility, opacity in management, and disregard for congressional oversight in its detention system. Such irresponsible governance results in system-wide abuses and even deaths. The report comes a day after the Trump administration released its budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 requesting $2.8 billion to detain 52,000 immigrants each day.

Read the report

“For too long, ICE has been permitted to evade accountability and disregard transparency as it spends billions in taxpayer dollars to lock up immigrants,” said NIJC Director of Policy Heidi Altman. “This culture of secrecy and impunity has only been emboldened under an administration that, as the past year and yesterday’s budget request make clear, values corporate profits over the well-being, safety and dignity of people and their communities.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • ICE regularly misrepresents its operational needs for detention space, demanding billions in taxpayer dollars to lock up immigrants and asylum seekers who have lived safely and productively in our communities for decades.
  • ICE inflates detention cost estimates and prioritizes the demands of prison contractors over responsible stewardship. For example, even as the agency seeks an increase in spending, it aggressively seeks to weaken the standards that govern the quality of care for immigrants in custody.
  • ICE repeatedly disregards congressional oversight, ignoring warnings by Congress to improve its budget management systems and relying on an inspections system rife with loopholes that fails to address human rights violations, including medical neglect that has resulted in preventable deaths.

“ICE has proven to community members and members of Congress alike that they cannot be trusted and should never be afforded the benefit of the doubt by congressional appropriators and oversight committees,” said Mary Small, policy director of Detention Watch Network. “ICE is an agency that regularly lies, actively hides information from the public and retaliates against anyone who speaks out. Members of Congress must hold ICE accountable.”



Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention. Visit Follow @DetentionWatch.

With offices in Chicago, Indiana, and Washington, D.C., the National Immigrant Justice Center is a nongovernmental organization dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers through a unique combination of direct services, policy reform, impact litigation, and public education. Visit and follow @NIJC.