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February 26, 2013

ICE Decision to Supervise Release of Some Detained Immigrants to Save Taxpayers Millions

New York City – In anticipation of steep budget cuts scheduled to occur at the end of the week, it has been reported that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will review its detained immigration population and begin the supervised release of some detainees. Human Rights First says the reported shift to alternatives reflects a common-sense solution to address the high taxpayer cost associated with the nation’s immigration detention system and notes that it’s an effective cost-saving measure that is consistent with human rights standards.

“We have long advocated for expanded use of alternatives to detention, a step we knew would save taxpayers millions of dollars,” said Human Rights First’s Ruthie Epstein. “It is a shame that it took the threat of serious budget cuts to prompt this move. Even so, ICE’s decision makes clear that the government can save money by reforming its approach to immigration detention. The bottom line is that alternatives to detention are effective and save government funds. This is a step in the right direction for ICE.”

Human Rights First notes that ICE holds the overwhelming majority of its nearly 400,000 detained asylum seekers and immigration detainees in jails and jail-like facilities that costs taxpayers $2 billion every year. Alternatives to detention cost 30 cents to $14 a day, as compared to $164 per day for detention.

For more information, see Human Rights First’s Blueprint for the Next Administration: How to Repair the U.S. Immigration Detention System.