Immigration Detention Priorities for Biden’s First 100 Days

For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Washington, DC — In response to the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States, Silky Shah, Executive Director of Detention Watch Network offered the following statement: 

“After four years of an administration that promoted white supremacy, xenophobia, hate and most recently incited an attempted coup at the Capitol, we welcome the opportunity for a more just society under a Biden administration. It is paramount that the Biden administration take swift and decisive executive action to address the harms caused by the Trump administration and to begin to undo the criminalization and punitive nature of the immigration detention system.

During the first 100 days of Biden’s presidency we demand the administration’s priorities include:

  • Repealing the hate-filled immigration policies of the Trump era.
  • Issuing a moratorium on deportations and interior enforcement, while ensuring that the cases of anyone that remains in detention move forward so that people don’t languish behind bars. 
  • Releasing people from immigration detention amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the interest of the health of those detained and the public.  
  • Closing detention facilities, including immediately ending all contracts with private prison corporations and state and local governments as a first step towards ending the harmful detention system entirely.
  • Dramatically cutting funding to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the President’s budget proposal, including at minimum a 75 percent cut to the detention budget.
  • Ending state and local entanglement with immigraiton enforcement, reducing the pipeline to detention and deportation.

The number of people in detention is the lowest it's been in over 20 years. On day one of the Biden administration, this number should only go down. The current numbers underscore the arbitrary nature of detention and why the system is unnecessary. People should be released back to their families, communities and support networks until no one is in detention.

We cannot revert back to Obama-era policies that targeted, incarcerated, and deported our family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors to devastating lengths. People navigating their immigration case should be able to do so with their families and loved ones — not behind bars in immigration detention. The system simply does not need to exist.”


Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention. Visit Follow on Twitter @DetentionWatch.