The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency continues to ramp up hardline immigration policing practices, government-issued statistics about the number of detainees indicate. In the transition year that began under President Obama and ended under President Trump, ICE surpassed previous highs in its immigration detention network.
In fiscal year 2017—running from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017—ICE detained, on average, 38,106 people every day. Called the “average daily population” in official reports, the FY 2017 figure is an increase of approximately 4,000 from the previous year when President Obama was in charge during the entire reporting period. The FY 2016 total had been ICE’s previous high-water mark.
Over a three-year period, people have spent more time, on average, inside detention centers. In FY 2017, the average length of stay was 43.7 days. Interestingly, DHS reported that Haitians were averaging 82.5 days in detention in FY 2017 compared to the previous year’s 20.7 days.
In FY 2017, ICE’s Custody Operations unit—the agency’s main division responsible for running detention centers—had a budget of $2.7 billion and 5,349 full-time equivalent personnel. From this, ICE paid for each bed, on average, $128.88 in FY 2016 and $132.90 in FY 2017 for adult beds. This includes “direct” and “indirect” costs. The agency defines direct costs to “include detention bed/guard contracts, healthcare, and other costs directly tied to implementing the detention program. Examples of other direct costs include alien welfare (clothing and other materials); provisions (food, beverages, and cooking materials); detainee pay; telecommunications services; utilities; operation and maintenance of facilities; supplies; equipment; postage; and miscellaneous contractual services such as inspection contracts.” It’s facilities for families cost more than its adult sites.
By contrast, ICE’s Alternatives to Detention (ATD) programming received $141 million and 268 full-time equivavlent personnel in FY 2017. Aside from personnel costs, most of the ATD budget goes to monitoring contracts for its ISAP III program, the successor to its ISAP II initiative. According to DHS, ISAP III’s cost “is derived from costs associated with an array of monitoring technology options (i.e., telephonic or GPS, court management, or alert management)….” It costs ICE, on average, $4.04 per day to place someone in ISAP III. In FY 2017, ICE enrolled 69,466 people in its ATD initiative.