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article imageOp-Ed: By law, U.S. must lock up 34,000 undocumented immigrants daily

By Karen Graham     Apr 2, 2014 in Politics
Under the administration of President Barack Obama, the U.S. has deported over two million undocumented immigrants. Most of these people spent time behind bars, with only a few facing criminal charges. The majority were detained on immigration charges.
The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, passed by the Senate in May of that year failed, along with a similar bill put forth by the Democrats. Since those failures, numerous additional immigration and naturalization bills have been bandied about by both houses of Congress, without any resolution.
There was one mandate that slipped through all the arguments in the hallowed halls of Congress, and it is costing the federal government and taxpayers over $2 billion annually. A federal law enacted in 2006 requires that a minimum of 34,000 undocumented immigrants be locked up in a detention center every single day. Based on yearly funding figures, it costs the government $5 million every day for immigrant detention.
This puts the cost to lock up an undocumented immigrant at approximately $159 per day, based on a total capacity of 31,600 detainees. It has been suggested that the House of Representatives would love to spend even more. But what is really sad is where this money is going. Someone is making a profit, and it's the privately owned and run detention centers, and the corporations running these facilities. They also are pushing the government to increase detainee numbers.
According to the Business of Detention, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is the nation's largest private prison company, with 53 correctional and detention facilities and managing an additional 13 facilities owned by our government. At the end of 2013, CCA had $158.5 million in long-lived assets.
The immigrations laws that are in force, and especially the amended ones in place since 9/11 show that national security is on everyone's mind, with every single person trying to cross our borders being looked at as a potential terrorist. To that end, Homeland Security pushed for additional money for detention centers and got it with no questions asked.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) gets its requested funding every year, despite government cut-backs in needed funding for social services and other projects. Backers of the funding say percentage-wise, the number of detainees being kept locked up is really a small number of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S.. While that may be so, $2 billion annually going to house people that have done nothing wrong is a crying shame.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Undocumented immigrants, Detention centers, federal law, immigration charges, Detainees
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