John Morton immigration detention reforms: scaling it back
John Morton of the Department of Homeland Security spoke at the Migration Policy Institute yesterday about reforms he's making concerning immigration detention. The Immigration Policy Center has a report here, and their summary of his upcoming reforms includes:
* [...centralizing] facilities [which] would be managed at the top by federal employees subject to clear, transparent, and fully implemented detention standards (though Morton told the crowd at MPI that they must be "patient" on revised detention standards, as ICE is trying to find something that works for both advocates and contractors, and is cost-effective).
* Reducing the number of detention facilities. ICE detains 32,000 people per day and around 380,000 per year. Morton stressed the importance of keeping the system compact and organized (ICE has already eliminated 50 facilities under Morton’s watch).
...* Finally, Morton talked about ICE’s preference to detain only criminal immigrants. He detailed ICE’s desire for smart, cost-effective alternatives to detention in order to ensure court appearances for non-criminal immigrants who pose a flight risk. Morton revealed that the Executive Office for Immigration Review is conducting a pilot program for alternatives to detention, and that after testing is complete there could be 16,000-17,000 slots available for immigrants to be placed in these programs.
Considering that - just like the Bush administration - the Obama administration has little use for immigration enforcement aside from as a way to get amnesty, and considering that a very large percentage of those released with a promise to appear never follow through, the last is more than a bit worrisome. While something like electronic monitoring makes sense as an alternative to detention in many cases, the question is whether they'd design the program to fail or whether they'd actually intend for it to work.