With Title 42 gone, the administration must not rely on immigration detention and surveillance

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, May 11, 2023

Washington, DC – Tonight, the Biden administration will finally end Title 42, a racist border closure and expulsion policy that targeted immigrants seeking safety and forced them into dangerous conditions under the guise of public health. Now, advocates are sounding the alarm that the administration must end Title 42 without relying on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immigration detention and surveillance.

In response to this news, Silky Shah, Executive Director of Detention Watch Network issued the following statement:

“The end of Title 42 is long-overdue. This cruel and racist policy should never have been implemented in the first place, and the Biden administration’s continuation of it for over two years has been a shameful endorsement of the right-wing’s xenophobic agenda.

With Title 42 gone, we are again making clear: The administration must end Title 42 without relying on immigration detention and surveillance and restore access to our borders so people can seek safety and opportunity with dignity and respect. 

Alarmingly, the administration announced yesterday a new expedited removal process for families that puts the heads of households on a GPS ankle monitor and subjects them to curfew.  The use of smartphone apps, ankle monitors, smartwatches and more exists within the broader surveillance dragnet of ICE’s “alternatives to detention” program.  As an enforcement agency, ICE uses these “alternatives” as  another framework to restrict, surveil, and further harm immigrant communities. To date, “alternatives to detention” have not resulted in fewer people in detention.  

Furthermore, the administration continues the U.S. government’s failed, decades-long deterrence strategy that causes immeasurable harm for people seeking safety and opportunity in the U.S. It is also increasing detention capacity across the system, including ICE detention capacity – despite it being an unnecessary system rife with abuse and neglect. The truth is, when we prioritize care for our communities and the environment, including in the border regions, we have more than enough resources to ensure everyone can live a fulfilled life. Migrants should be welcomed – not continually demonized and scapegoated as a means to instill fear around scarcity and security. 

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. We will not be fooled by the right wing’s attempts to divide us based on what we look like and where we come from.

With the end of Title 42, the number of people in detention should only trend down: Congress must reduce ICE’s budget, and the administration must take steps to end the immigration detention system in its entirety. We will continue to closely monitor the number of people in ICE custody as Title 42 ends, 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 detentionwatchnetwork.org. Follow on Twitter @DetentionWatch.