Number of People in Immigration Detention on the Verge of Reaching 30,000 

For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Washington, DC - The number of people in immigration detention has reached approximately 30,000, more than double the number when President Biden took office in January 2021. In response to this rapid increase, Setareh Ghandehari, Advocacy Director of Detention Watch Network issued the following statement:

“We repeatedly sounded the alarm that the Biden administration must end the cruel and racist Title 42 policy without relying on immigration detention and surveillance. Yet, in just one month since the overdue end of Title 42, the number of people in Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention has rapidly increased by nearly 40% to approximately 30,000, more than double than when President Biden first took office.

This administration shamefully continues the U.S. government’s failed, decades-long deterrence strategy by trading the cruel Title 42 expulsion policy for new policies that exclude asylum seekers and rely on expedited deportation processing and increasing detention in a system rife with abuse and neglect.

No one should be in immigration detention where people regularly suffer. Simply put, people navigating their immigration case should be able to do so with their families and loved ones — not behind bars in immigration detention. Our laws and policies do not need to rely on locking people up, separating families and excluding people from seeking safety and opportunity. The system simply does not need to exist.

The number of people in detention has been and will always be an arbitrary marker of a system rooted in racism and perverse financial incentives to profit off of people behind bars. 

The number of people in detention should only trend down: Congress must reduce ICE and Customs & Border Protection’s budgets, and the administration must take steps to end the immigration detention system in its entirety. The Biden administration can start this process by canceling contracts for several detention facilities that are set to expire this year, including the Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility in New Jersey and the Farmville detention center in Virginia. 

We will continue to closely monitor the number of people in ICE custody, while resolutely demanding people be released from detention immediately.”



Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition building power through collective advocacy, grassroots organizing, and strategic communications to abolish immigration detention in the United States. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level. Visit Follow on Twitter @DetentionWatch.