The U.S. detention system for immigrants has mushroomed in the past decade, creating a costly building boom in an effort to sweep up criminals and ensure that illegal immigrants are quickly deported.
However, an Associated Press computer analysis of the entire detention population on a Sunday night in January found that most did not have a criminal record and many were not about to leave the country soon — voluntarily or through deportation.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement database, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, showed a U.S. detainee population of exactly 32,000 on the evening of Jan. 25.
Of those, 18,690 immigrants did not have a criminal conviction, including for illegal entry or low-level crimes such as trespassing. More than 400 of those with no criminal record had been incarcerated for at least a year. A dozen had been held for three years or more; one man from China had been locked up for more than five years.
Almost 10,000 had been in custody longer than 31 days, the average detention stay.
For an up-close look at what's going on at these detention centers, check out Breakthrough Media's incredibly informative site, Homeland Guantanamos, which describes the detention system we've created in response to right-wing agitation about illegal immigration. You know, the same right-wingers who are now stewing over non-existent FEMA concentration camps.
The video below also explores the subject in some depth, focusing on the situation in Illinois.