President Donald Trump’s ongoing crackdown on immigrants has hit a grim new milestone. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement official told BuzzFeed on Monday that the agency had 52,398 migrants currently in detention; as the outlet noted, this is the largest number of ICE detainees in the agency’s history.
Kevin Landy, who served as head of ICE’s Office of Detention Policy and Planning during the Obama administration, told BuzzFeed: “This is an avoidable humanitarian crisis manufactured by the Trump administration’s harsh policies, which are driven by the president’s extreme rhetoric and distorted assessments of the migrant population.”
Less than three months ago, The Daily Beast reported that the number of ICE detainees had, for the first time ever, surpassed 50,000. The agency confirmed to the outlet that, as of March 6, it was holding 50,049 migrants ― a 2,000-person bump since January.
When asked by the Daily Beast to explain the reason behind the increase, an ICE spokeswoman said only that the agency “makes custody determinations on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with U.S. law and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy, considering the merits and factors of each case while adhering to current agency priorities, guidelines and legal mandates.”
ICE did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment.
The number of detainees currently in ICE custody is far higher than the number of detention beds that Congress approved earlier this year.
ICE had requested funding for 52,000 detention beds, but Congress in February only agreed to fund a daily average of around 45,000 beds till the end of September. As Bloomberg noted, however, the Trump administration has the authority to expand the number of beds by transferring money to ICE from other security programs.
Last summer, for instance, DHS used funds from FEMA and the U.S. Coast Guard, among other accounts, to pay for extra beds for ICE.