In an op-ed for the New Jersey Star-Ledger, BLS Professor Mark Noferi and Robert Koulish from the University of Maryland discussed changes that must be made in immigration detention laws. In 2012, they explained, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spent $2 billion on 429,000 immigrant detainees—over twelve times more individuals than any single state or federal prison, many of whom are legal residents of the U.S. Those incarcerated by ICE are often jailed for months with no bail hearing before they begin immigration proceedings.
Legislation has recently been introduced in Congress that would reform immigration detention through alternative means, such as tracking bracelets. Noferi and Koulish called for Congress to make stronger reforms, including using computerized “risk assessment” tools and ending mandatory detention. “Immigrants in tracking bracelets are ‘freed but not free,’” they wrote. “Restrictive alternatives should be reserved for the higher-risk, not expanded to nonviolent, long-time residents.”
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