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U.S. immigration detention

Janet Napolitano, the U.S. Secretary for Homeland Security, has announced the construction of two model immigration detention centres in the United States, and the conversion of nursing homes into detention centres.

Currently, 66% of the 32,000 illegal immigrants held in custody are 'rented out' to 312 county jails and private prisons. The system cannot accommodate them - another 19,000 people are fitted with electronic bracelets and are required to check in regularly. Not only are the prison conditions inhumane for the men, women and children incarcerated, they are expensive. The cost of housing detainees is US$2.4B annually.

Those not held in actual jails are mostly held in buildings that were built as jails, according to Napolitano's report.


With only a few exceptions, the facilities that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) uses to detain aliens, were built, and operate, as jails and prisons to confine pre-trial and sentenced felons. ICE relies primarily on correctional incarceration standards designed for pre-trial felons and on correctional principles of care, custody, and control.
The number in detention on any particular day pales beside the number processed through the system annually - now over 400,000.

NYT article October 5th, 2009
Napolitano's Report
Detention Watch Network


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