Immigrant Detention Crowding May Worsen Under Trump

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Bed space was so hard to come by inside immigrant detention facilities across the U.S. last fall that federal officials scrambled to rent out extra room in county prisons and jails. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency had thousands more immigrants in custody than it had the capacity to detain. As a result, hundreds of Haitian immigrants wound up wherever there was open jail space, often in remote regions like the Yakima County jail in eastern-Washington state and far from where they were apprehended at the southern border, reports The Atlantic. The federal immigrant detention network was bursting at the seams even before President Trump entered office. Those problems will likely grow worse after the president expanded the pool of immigrants up for deportation. The Obama administration put in place a plan that is proving beneficial to Trump: a blueprint on how to outsource immigration enforcement to local cops, leveraging their resources and infrastructure to execute Trump’s proposal to detain and deport millions of undocumented immigrants who have “criminal records.”

In January, Trump signed an executive order that included measures to ramp up a program known as 287(g), which deputizes local law enforcement officers to double as federal immigration agents. Local officers are authorized to interview, arrest, and detain any person who may be in violation of immigration laws. Thirty-eight law enforcement agencies are currently collaborating with ICE. A report by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in December found that the overwhelming majority of 2,556 counties surveyed didn’t need formal programs: They were already offering assistance to ICE. Trump celebrated this mutual alliance with local law enforcement this month by inviting sheriffs to the White House. The local leaders emerged from the meetings emboldened by the enthusiastic backing they received from the president. Some floated ways to target elected officials in so-called “sanctuary cities” that refused to cooperate with the feds.

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