A quarter-century ago, in 1994, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, on any given day, was holding somewhere around 5,500 immigrants in “immigration detention.”
For fiscal year 2017, Immigration and Customs Enforcement budget documents projected an average daily population in detention of roughly 31,000. That increase—nearly six-fold in 25 years—made the Enforcement and Removal Operations division of ICE roughly the 13th largest prison system in the country. On its busiest days in FY 2017, ICE housed a population well above that.
During FY 2018, ICE reports that its average daily population has been 40,726. Before the year began, ICE budget documents had projected a detention population of 51,379. That staggering expansion—65 percent in a single year—would have vaulted ERO to a spot somewhere around No. 7. Its population would rank in size behind only the federal prison system and those of California, Florida, Georgia, New York, and Texas.
In 1973, the great Russian writer Alexandr Solzhenitsyn coined the term “Gulag Archipelago” to denote the Soviet system of political prisons and labor camps. In the last 25 years, the United States has, without fanfare, brought into being a kind of ERO Archipelago—secretive, loosely supervised, and, in human and constitutional rights terms, deeply problematic. And the “system” will, if the current administration carries forward its enforcement plans, grow significantly larger year by year.
As of 2016, only about 10 percent of detainees were held in federal facilities at all; the remainder were housed in state, county, or city jails (25 percent) or private for-profit prisons (65 percent). Each of the local or private facilities is governed by an agreement with ICE governing inmate conditions, and the agreements aren’t uniform. Some require better conditions than others. Even ICE’s defenders do not seriously contest that ERO detention facilities are rife with poor physical conditions, inadequate medical
Source:: The Atlantic – Politics