White House planning to use federal prisons to house suspected illegal immigrants
Immigrants arrested by the US government will be put into federal prisons while their cases are being considered, under new plans confirmed on Thursday.
In the first ever large-scale use of federal prisons to hold detainees, authorities are transferring about 1,600 people into prison.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokeswoman told Reuters that five federal prisons will temporarily take in detainees awaiting civil immigration court hearings, including potential asylum seekers.
One prison in Victorville, California, is preparing to house 1,000 people.
Donald Trump has made detaining and deporting illegal immigrants a pillar of his presidency – ICE has reported a 40 per cent increase in arrests within the United States since he took office.
This week 114 people were rounded up at an Ohio garden centre, suspected of working without permits. A Brooklyn pizza delivery man, originally from Ecuador, was detained after he delivered pizza to an army base in New York.
And officials of a prison employees’ union said the influx of ICE detainees raises questions about prison staffing and safety.
America famously locks up more people, per capita, than any other country in the world.
The American criminal justice system currently holds almost 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 1,852 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 80 Indian Country jails, according to Prison Policy’s latest report.
That is the equivalent of 693 people for every 100,000 residents – more than any other country.
The UK, by comparison, locks up 145 people per 100,000.
And America’s prisons are already overcrowded.
According to data from the World Prison Brief, the US prison system has an occupancy level nationwide of 103.9 percent – although that only puts it 113th in the world rankings.
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