Obama’s 2017 Fiscal Budget Invests Significantly in Detention, Fails to Support Immigrant Families

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, February 11, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC — On Monday, President Obama released the final budget of his presidency. In a disappointing proposal, this year’s budget continues to significantly invest in detention and monitoring of immigrant communities, earmarking $2.18 billion for detention.

The budget requests funding for 30,913 people to be detained each day down from 34,040 last year. “While this is a reduction in funding for custody operations, it is a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed,” said Silky Shah, co-director for Detention Watch Network. “The numbers remain alarmingly high, which will result in hundreds of thousands of immigrants behind bars at a massive human, financial and moral cost.”

Although the administration did not meaningfully reduce funding for detention centers, they did refuse to budget for a mandatory, statutory bed quota requiring U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold a minimum of 34,000 people a day.

“The detention bed quota is a wasteful and arbitrary detention policy that no other law enforcement agency is subject to,” Shah said. “We are glad President Obama did not incorporate this into the budget, and call on Congress not to appropriate additional funds nor double down on this unjust policy.”

Although the budget includes a significant decrease in funding for family detention, any funding at all is hugely disappointing.

“The courts, civil society, and a majority of the President’s party in Congress have all agreed that this practice must end completely,” said Shah.

Last but not least, DWN has long said that increases in the use of alternatives to detention (ATDs) must always be accompanied by decreases in the use of detention for any ATD program to have integrity. While this budget request meets that minimum standard, DWN continues to express concern about the punitive nature of many of the measures used by the GEO Group, which is slated to receive over $62 million to administer the ATD program.

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Detention Watch Network works through the collective strength and diversity of its members to expose and challenge the injustices of the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons.