The Washington Post is claiming that the congressional directive referred to as the “bed mandate” is forcing officials from the Department of Homeland Security to keep an average of no fewer than 34,000 detainees in custody per day. The mandate was established by conservative lawmakers seven years ago, back in 2006, as a method of making sure Homeland Security officials remained diligent in seeking out and holding illegal immigrants.
Meeting the quota that was set by the mandate has become difficult in the wake of falling immigration levels because of the recession, resulting in enforcement officers scouring court information in order to track down immigrants with green cards who have been convicted of a criminal offence and thus are eligible to be deported. Another method of finding enough undocumented immigrants to fill prison cells has been by using local police to make traffic stops.
Those in opposition to the bed mandate are livid that the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is the only such department that is forced to fulfill a prisoner quota. “No other law enforcement agencies have a quota for the number of people that they must keep in jail,” notes Representative Ted Deutch. “Mandating ICE detain 34,000 individuals a day does not secure our borders or make us safer.”
Many who are detained eventually end up being pardoned, and critics point out that there is significant cost to taxpayers in keeping people in prison, with keeping one person in prison costing $120 per day, according to Bloomberg.