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Hearing of the Immigration Policy and Enforcement Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee - The Department of Homeland Security's New Immigration Detention Standards


Location: Washington, DC

Today our hearing focuses on the detention of illegal and criminal immigrants. From the onset, I would like to be clear that no member is against the humane treatment of detainees. However, I am concerned with ICE's new Performance Based Detention Standards because they unreasonably put the interests of removable aliens ahead of the interest of the nation.

Full implementation of the new detention standards is likely to be extremely costly. Nevertheless, cost estimates are not addressed at any point in the 400-plus pages of standards. Has ICE considered the impact of this new policy on the American taxpayers?

To make matters worse, the impetus for the new standards have little to do with a need for detention reform. Rather, they are part of an extensive public relations effort aimed at pro-amnesty advocates.

Shortly after the detention standards were released, DHS announced the opening of a new detention facility in Texas. A San Antonio newspaper describes it as being more like a private college setting than a detention center.

It is outrageous that immigration detention facilities have morphed into college campuses, particularly when we are dealing with a facility that costs the taxpayer $32 million, to start with. This is especially true when American families struggle to make ends meet.

However, even these changes do not make advocates happy. They consistently say that the new detention facilities are an improvement, but don't go far enough. What will far enough be? Numerous statements issued by the advocates make clear they are opposed to immigration detention itself.

DHS's new detention standards are part of a trend. The trend began with leaked DHS memos that discussed mechanisms the agency could utilize to circumvent Congress and provide amnesty by administrative action. It continued with DHS issuing memos regarding priorities whereby potentially millions of illegal immigrants could be exempt from removal. These memos were superseded by a new prosecutorial discretion policy allowing those in violation of the law, who are already in the removal process or ordered removed, to remain here undisturbed.

And now, we have the release of new standards that involve policies for detainee-friendly detention centers for those illegal and criminal immigrants DHS does intend to detain -- all at taxpayer expense

I have a recommendation to the Administration: The best way to help immigration detainees is not to roll out the welcome mat at a posh detention facility. It is to reduce the amount of time they spend in detention by making better use of the tools Congress has provided to process illegal immigrants for removal more expeditiously. It would be best if ICE spent more time, energy and resources on removing illegal and criminal immigrants.

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