5 Reasons To Release Most Immigrant Detainees

FLORENCE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Immigrant detainees walk through the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), detention facili
FLORENCE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28: Immigrant detainees walk through the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), detention facility on February 28, 2013 in Florence, Arizona. With the possibility of federal budget sequestration, ICE released 303 immigration detainees in the last week from detention facilities throught Arizona. More than 2,000 immigration detainees remain in ICE custody in the state. Most detainees typically remain in custody for several weeks before they are deported to their home country, while others remain for longer periods while their immigration cases work through the courts. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
5 Reasons To Release Immigrant Detainees

As the country braces itself for the increasingly likely possibility of getting hit with $85 billion in budget cuts this year, the decision to release several hundred immigrant detainees to save money has sparked fury among immigration hardliners.

It shouldn't come as a surprise, however, that ICE would want to lighten its load of detainees if the agency is facing looming budget cuts. As Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said Thursday, it costs six times more to hold an immigrant in detention than to let them go and monitor them.

An ICE official told Reuters that the federal government is currently spending about $119 per day per immigrant detainee. Using alternative ways to monitor detainees -- like GPS monitors or scheduling visits with a caseworker -- could bring that cost down to somewhere between $0.17 and $17.78.

Despite all the hoopla, most immigrants in detention aren't hardened criminals. A study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University found that of the nearly 1 million people ICE slapped with an immigration hold over the last four years, only 23 percent had been convicted of a crime and only 8.6 percent with a serious crime.

So we keep treating undocumented immigrants like criminals?

Check out these 5 reasons why it makes sense to use alternative methods to monitor most immigrants in detention. Let us know what you think in the comments.



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