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Quigley Fights Immigrant Detention Abuse, Unconstitutional ICE Detainers and Wasteful Detention Bed Mandate

Jun 11, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) offered amendments to the FY2015 Homeland Security Appropriations bill to protect undocumented immigrants from abuse in detention centers, reject unconstitutional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers and end a mandated detention bed quota that wastes millions of dollars annually. 

Rep. Quigley’s first amendment would increase funding levels by $5.2 million for the implementation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in immigration detention facilities. PREA sets a zero-tolerance standard for prison rape and sexual abuse and created guidelines to hold correctional facilities across the country accountable for protecting their inmates. The amendment diverts funding from ICE detainers, which federal courts have consistently held to be unconstitutional.

“The government has a moral responsibility to ensure the safety of any person under its charge. For too long we have allowed the pervasive and systematic abuse of detainees held in immigration detention facilities. This is especially true with regards to LGBT detainees. Increased funding for PREA implementation is a vital step towards ending this unconscionable miscarriage of justice,” said Rep. Quigley.

Rep. Quigley led the push for a GAO investigation that identified problems at detention facilities around the country and questioned the adequacy of investigations into allegations of sexual assault and abuse. Following the report’s release, Rep. Quigley organized a bipartisan group of Members of Congress that called on the Obama Administration to put strong regulations in place to better prevent abuse and assault of detainees.

Rep. Quigley’s second amendment, which received bipartisan support, would remove a requirement from the appropriations bill that mandates the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to maintain a 34,000 bed quota in detention facilities.

“Immigration custody decisions should be made on an individualized basis following a calculus of flight risk, risk to public safety and relevant humanitarian considerations – not an arbitrary bed quota that wastes millions of dollars each year. Removing this mandate will provide DHS the flexibility to fund smarter and more efficient alternatives to detention that reduce the unnecessary separation of families and save American taxpayers money,” said Rep. Quigley.

The U.S. spends more than $5 million a day to detain immigrants, an estimated 45 percent of which have no criminal record according the Human Rights Watch. That equates to roughly $164 per day per detainee and roughly $2 billion per year. Utilizing more cost-effective and secure alternatives could cost as little as 30 cents to $14 per day.

Rep. Quigley has been a staunch advocate of comprehensive immigration reform and humane detention policies throughout his time in Congress. He has pushed Congress to pass a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants and fix America’s broken immigration system that unnecessarily tears families apart, disrupts the workforce and drains economic resources.