1. Update
  2. Immigrants & Refugees

Immigration: End the Bed Quota

By Hannah Graf Evans, March 9, 2016


In detention centers around the country, the federal government is using your tax dollars to imprison up to 34,000 immigrant mothers, fathers, and family members on any given day. Not because they pose a threat to public safety — but because of a quota.

According to federal law, no fewer than 34,000 immigrant detention beds must be paid for on a daily basis, and some members of Congress even insist that federal law requires they must be filled (i.e. people locked up).

If you didn't know about this arbitrary enforcement policy, you're not alone. Last week I visited with a congressional staffer who told me that neither he nor the member of Congress knew that this language existed until there was a vote on it in 2013.

This year, your representative could help raise awareness about the provision for their colleagues by publicly asking for its repeal.

The provision, often referred to as the bed quota, is costly, unjust, and unprecedented. No other law enforcement agency is required to maintain a fixed number of beds and the requirement suggests that enforcement be driven by an arbitrary policy at the expense of discretion. But several private prison corporations lobbied heavily to increase the bed quota and they profit off of the mandate to maintain 34,000 beds at all times in their prisons and detention centers.

Hannah Graf Evans

  • Legislative Representative, Immigration and Refugee Policy

Hannah Graf Evans lobbies for compassionate immigration policies. Our immigration system should empower immigrants and the American communities to which they belong, lift up the voices of border communities, and ensure adequate protections for refugees, asylum-seekers and victims of trafficking. Hannah served as co-chair of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition steering committee for three years and still plays an active role in pursuing shared policy priorities of the more than 50 faith-based member organizations.