U.S. Often Detains Illegal Immigrants Without Formal Charges

Posted on 12/20/13

Even in the United States, It’s Possible to Be Held in Detention Without a Formal Charge

The United States already imprisons more people than any other country- in excess of 2 million. An article by the Huffington Post (linked below) recently revealed a new related statistic; on a given day the United States government most likely incarcerates over 10,000 people who have not committed any crime. These individuals are being held behind bars in immigration detention because they are in this country illegally, not because they committed crime. (It is important to note that law considers the act of being in the country without status a civil, rather than a criminal, offense. While some may disagree with this characterization, that is the current law.)

The Huffington Post article, which, through the aid of the Freedom of Information Act, uncovered that on a particular October day last fall over 13,000 individuals who were not facing criminal charges were being detained. These individuals remain in a state of legal limbo, as United States immigration authorities decide their fate.

If an individual is being held in such detention on suspicion of being in this country illegally, that individual should know that they have the right to speak to a representative from their consulate and an attorney.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency’s official policy, as stated by spokeswoman Nicole Navas, is to focus on “smart, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the removal of convicted criminal aliens, fugitives, recent illegal border crossers and egregious immigration law violators. . . .” However, the recent news indicates that these detention centers do not focus on the removal of dangerous illegal immigrants (such as murders and rapists) from this country as indicated by ICE. Furthermore, the cost of the immigration detentions is staggering, costing the government roughly $730 Million Dollars annually.

As the Republican Presidential Primary heats up and eventually leads to a clash in the general election, I expect to see more rhetoric focusing on immigration. We will see how the candidates handle these issues, and balance the practical, legal and humanitarian issues illegal immigration presents.