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Criminal Justice & Legal System

ICE looking for possible detention center sites near Detroit

Immigration and Customs Enforcement - or ICE - agents
U.S. Air Force
The agency says responses to the request for information are for planning purposes only. It does not have immediate plans to create more detention centers.

Federal immigration officials are scouting possible locations for detention center sites in the greater Detroit area.

That’s according to a request for information posted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement earlier this month.

The agency is looking for facilities that could house between 200 and 600 detainees near Detroit. It is also looking for possible sites in Chicago, St. Paul, and Salt Lake City. Locations would need to be located around 30 minutes from a hospital and an hour and a half from an airport.

An ICE official said in an email that the request for information was in line with President Trump's proposed budget, which calls for $1.2 million in new spending on detention beds.

But Susan Reed, managing attorney at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, says there are less costly and more humane alternatives.

“It’s absolutely not necessary to put these terrible restrictions on people’s liberty that cost taxpayers really astronomical amounts of money,” Reed said.

Reed says pilot programs of detention alternatives like case monitoring and electronic tracking during the Obama administration had compliance rates of over 99 percent.

And she adds that representing clients who are in detention can add lots of extra time to cases.

“Generally, attorneys themselves, not other legal workers from their office, have to go physically in person to meet with a client every time they need to communicate with that client,” explained Reed.

For families hiring private attorneys, that can make for a huge legal bill.

An ICE official said in an email that the request for information is for planning purposes. There is not an immediate plan for new facilities in the Detroit region, but responses will help identify “potentially interested vendors, the potential locations(s), and type(s) of facilities that may be proposed should a Request for Proposals be competed [sic].”

It will not, the official said, directly result in a contract with companies or other entities submitting responses. 

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