Despite all of the massive budget shortages the house is having a hearing on a new bill to incarcerate even more noncriminal illegal immigrants and for longer time periods. Really?
More than half of the individuals in immigration detention have never committed a crime. On average over 33,000 people are detained each and every day, at a cost of $45,000 per year per detainee. As a result our government spent more than $1.9 billion last year on immigration detention alone.
The new bill hiding under the name “Keep Our Communities Safe Act of 2011”, will make the situation even worse, cause greater fiscal deficits, and take away human rights. The bill would authorize DHS to detain individuals such as asylum seekers and refugees for years while they await the outcome of their cases. Secondly, the bill authorizes DHS to lock people up indefinitely. So a refugee from a country where we do not have a repatriation agreement could be locked up forever if she loses her case.
While our criminal justice system may be flawed, it is the means to protect public safety, not immigration detention.
We have outlined many positive ways to reform our immigration system. This new bill is NOT one of them.