Budget Compromise Incentivizes ICE to Detain More Immigrants

Today’s budget compromise includes a significant increase in funding for the government to detain immigrants in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) jails. This is an unpardonable attack on immigrant communities. The Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition remains steadfast in our demand for an end to ICE detention.  

“ICE detention is a cruel and dehumanizing system with even fewer due process protections than criminal jail,” says Edith Hinson, Co-Program Director for CAIR Coalition’s Detained Adult Program. “We have seen first-hand, mothers being held in solitary confinement and people torn from their homes in the middle of the night to be detained. An increase in bedspace does not mean more safety for the American people; it means more parentless children and broken communities.”

CAIR Coalition staff regularly visit ICE detention centers to meet with our clients. We see firsthand the damaging and dehumanizing effect that detention has on people, their families, and their communities.  

We have been working with a man from Central America who is currently detained by ICE. When he was thrown into detention, his family not only lost a father and husband but also their sole breadwinner. His wife and four young children are struggling to pay rent and buy groceries. Without the generosity of their community, they would be unhoused.  

His time in detention has been a nightmare for him. In addition to being separated from his family, he recently injured his foot and received no medical treatment. While his foot was turning purple and he was doubled over in pain, his attorneys were fighting with ICE to allow him to see a doctor. It took days. All of this is happening while he is fighting to stay in the country and not be deported to Central America, where he fears persecution by both gangs and the government.  

In prior years, ICE has budgeted to detain up to 34,000 people. That number has now risen to over 41,500 people, from $2.9 billion in 2023 to $3.4 billion in 2024. Make no mistake: ICE will find people to fill those detention beds.  

Instead of detaining more people, this money should be used to provide access to counsel and community-based case management programs. Both programs have been proven to be more effective at meeting the government's supposed goal of ensuring compliance in immigration court proceedings. 


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