If You Build It, ICE Will Fill It: The Link Between Detention Capacity and ICE Arrests

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ICE has built and expanded a massive infrastructure of immigration jails, surveillance programs, and enforcement agents. The current enforcement-centered response to migration, supported by ever-increasing Congressional appropriations, has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deportations each year. Over the last two decades, the budget for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), which includes its account for immigration detention, has quadrupled. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, detention levels hit historic peaks of more than 50,000 people per day.

This extensive report is in collaboration between ILRC, Detention Watch Network, and CERES Policy Research.