Each year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detains over 100,000 immigrants, including people who have lived in the U.S. for decades, parents of U.S. citizens and individuals who come to the country seeking safety. ICE subjects people in detention to dangerous conditions and substandard medical care. Detention facilities are often located in rural, hard to reach areas, inaccessible to families and legal counsel. The unprecedented scale of immigration detention has been driven in large part by private prison companies that capture the lion’s share of the over one billion dollars spent every year to lock up immigrants.
This policy brief describes the harms and racial injustices that have resulted from U.S. laws requiring the detention of certain categories of individuals based on past involvement in the criminal legal systems, as well as recommendations for steps Congress can take to address these injustices.