Indefinite Detention in the Land of the Free

Donald Trump’s deportation promise threatens everything America stands for.

By Alexander H. Maurice.

Throughout his election campaign, Donald Trump hammered home his promise to detain and deport up to 3 million people from America. This is not a simple task. Even now America detains more immigrants than any other country. Increasing this number dramatically would be expensive, logistically difficult, potentially unconstitutional, and grossly inhumane.

Before anyone can be deported, they must be detained and processed. The system is already stretched to its limits, and some people have been languishing for years in detention facilities that were designed for short stays. Refugees whose claims are rejected in the United States often cannot even be returned to their home countries because those countries countries deny their nationality. Instead, they are held indefinitely without trial or release. The Global Intelligence has interviewed people currently held in immigration detention facilities in the United States, and their stories are shocking. If Trump is to fulfill his campaign promise, there will be a real human cost and, inevitably, human rights and constitutional rights violations.

Failed System

Immigration detention in the U.S. is handled by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). In 2003, this agency was formed as part of the Department of Homeland Security. Within ICE, the Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) administers the detention and deportation of people taken into custody by ICE. ERO currently oversees 209 detention centers, some of which are privatized. However, these facilities are already stretched well beyond their capacities. “The United States operates the world’s largest immigration detention system,” according to the Global Detention Project, a research center based in Geneva, Switzerland, that investigates the use of immigration-related detention as a response to global migration—and this was before Trump’s proposed plans.

Part of the reason is a policy known as the detention bed quota. This was …

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