Advocates Seek to Combat Detention Bed Quota During Upcoming Congressional Appropriations Debate
January 30, 2014, New York – Detention Watch Network and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) today filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking immediate release of documents that the United States government has refused to provide regarding the detention bed quota, which ICE has interpreted to require detaining 34,000 non-citizens per day. Advocates say this lockup quota which mandates payments to private prison corporations that manage civil immigration facilities as well as local and state jails, is unprecedented in law enforcement practice and is inextricably linked to the Obama administration’s record-breaking deportations, which are quickly approaching 2 million.
The federal lawsuit, Detention Watch Network et al. v. ICE et al.
, was filed in the Southern District of New York against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which have failed to disclose information pursuant to the FOIA. The initial FOIA requests were filed in the fall of 2013 in anticipation of the upcoming Congressional debate on appropriations. Despite growing public concern, Congress has already renewed the detention bed quota for Fiscal Year 2014; the President’s budget for Fiscal Year 2015 is expected to be released on March 4, 2014.
Said Detention Watch Network’s Interim Executive Director Silky Shah, “The lockup quota essentially forces the use of facilities with very poor track records in which innumerable human rights violations and dozens of deaths have occurred. As the debate over immigration continues, any true reform to the system will be impossible without an end to the quota.”
CCR Staff Attorney Ghita Schwarz said, “The public is entitled to understand how ICE and DHS implement the detention bed quota and their continuing insistence on mass detention of non-citizens. Evading their responsibilities under FOIA undermines the ability of community members to engage in debate and hold their representatives and the Obama administration accountable.”
Public debate on the detention bed quota and the Obama administration’s mass detention and deportation program has intensified in the past few weeks. Last week, former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau publicly called for an end to the detention bed quota, denouncing it as a “shameful injustice” that it has a “corrupting influence” on the entire immigration enforcement system.
To learn more about the case, click here
The Detention Watch Network is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights of dignity of all persons. Visit www.detentionwatchnetwork.org and follow @DetentionWatch
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.