Congressional Budget Deal Seeks to Reduce ICE Detention Capacity

On February 14th, 2019, legislators from both parties in the Senate and House of Representatives reached a budget agreement that averted a second federal government shutdown. The first — which lasted for more than one month — caused tremendous disruption within United States immigration courts.

Certainly, the aversion of the shutdown and the lack of ‘wall money’ have made the most headlines. Though, there are some additional important elements of this budget agreement that will affect our immigration policy. Among other things, the agreement takes minor, but still significant action to reduce ICE’s capacity to detain undocumented immigrants. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, this deal seeks to reverse the trend of increased ICE detentions under the Trump Administration.

ICE Detentions Have Skyrocketed Under the Trump Administration

The Trump Administration has dramatically expanded detention of immigrants. Under the watch of the president, ICE has arrested and detained significantly more people — both in immigration raids conducted within the United States and asylum seekers crossing the United States border —than were detained under President Obama or President Bush.

According to the most recent data from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the average amount of people in immigrant detention facilities is projected to exceed 45,000 per day in 2019 fiscal year. Though, that may be a low estimate. The Washington Post recently reported that ICE had more than 49,000 immigrants in custody on February 6th, 2019 — the highest of any single day on record. For comparison, the current detention levels are 50 percent higher than detention levels in 2010 and 150 percent above the average from levels in 2000. Since 2000, and especially since President Trump took office, the overall trend has been clear: ICE is detaining more and more people.

The Budget Deal Seeks to Halt and Reverse this Alarming Trend

This budget seeks, in part, to stop and reverse the trend of increased detentions by ICE. Indeed, the legislation calls for ICE to reduce its detention numbers to below 40,520 by October of 2019. Though, the budget deal does give ICE some additional discretion — it includes funding for up to 45,000 beds for immigrant detainees.

Whether this bill actually works to constrain the actions of the Trump Administration and federal immigration enforcement agencies remains to be seen. Undoubtedly, more action is required to protect the rights of immigrants. It is imperative that Congress exercises its rightful authority and conducts rigorous oversight of the Trump Administration and all of the administrative agencies that fall under the executive branch.     

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At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, we are proud to be a full service immigration law firm. To get immediate assistance with your immigration case, please reach out to our immigration attorney in Los Angeles today. From our law office in Los Angeles, we represent clients all over Southern California, including in Thousand Oaks, Malibu, Calabasas, Santa Monica, Burbank, and Beverly Hills.