With Sequestration, DHS Acknowledges That Effective and Cost-Efficient Alternatives to Immigration Detention Exist

February 26, 2013

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Statement from National Immigrant Justice Center Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy

“The Department of Homeland Security’s decision to release hundreds of men and women from immigration detention in preparation for sequestration proves a point that immigrant rights advocates have been making for years: There are far more cost-efficient ways to manage immigration enforcement in the United States. Keeping people in prisons and county jails cost taxpayers more than $2 billion last year. Those individuals who have been released will not only have the opportunity to remain with their families and have better access to legal counsel as they pursue their immigration cases, but they will do so at a great fiscal savings to the U.S. government. We hope the Obama administration and Congress heed this lesson as it continues its work to create a new immigration law.”
 
On March 14, 2013, the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing regarding ICE's release of more than 2,000 immigrants who were unnecessarily detained. NIJC submitted written testimony emphasizing the fiscal responsibility of alternatives to detention and the need to eliminate the detention quota set by Congress, which mandates the Department of Homeland Security to maintain an unnecessarily costly detention system.