The number of individuals held in custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the just-ended FY 2009 is now estimated to have reached 369,483 detainees, more than twice what the total was in FY 1999. According to a recent agency report, this growth means that ICE is now operating the largest detention system in the country. Read more here.This detention also comes with arbitrary and confusing transfers from center to center. For example, the Houston Chronicle reports:
After Alejandro Sibaja was picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Houston 15 months ago, he was transferred six times and finally ended up in Haskell, north of Abilene.
By the time an immigration judge in Dallas granted Sibaja a green card last Wednesday, his wife, Iris Lopez-Sibaja said she had spent countless hours trying to track him through the nation's troubled immigration detention network, which faced criticism on Wednesday from government auditors and immigrant rights advocates for resulting in haphazard detainee transfers.
“It was tough. It was harder on my kids, though,” Lopez-Sibaja said. “They were the ones always asking where their dad was.”
In separate reports released Wednesday, the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security and the nonprofit organization Human Rights Watch criticized the controversial and increasingly common practice of transferring immigration detainees to detention centers far from their families and attorneys.