Congress mandates that an average of 34,000 beds be filled in mostly private detention facilities each day by immigrant detainees. The so called “bed quota” was passed as part of a Congressional appropriations legislation that approved funds for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). the Congressional budget specifies, “funding made available under this heading shall maintain a level of not less than 34,000 detention beds.” First enacted in 2007, this “detention bed quota” has been interpreted by some members of Congress and ICE to mean that ICE is required to fill at least 34,000 beds with immigrant detainees each day. ICE is the only law enforcement agency that has a bed quota.
Immigration rights groups across the country are using March 11, 2014 as a Day of Action to demand Congress to abolish the quota. The American Immigration Lawyer’s Association has called on Congress to eliminate the bed quota in part because thousands of immigrants are unnecessarily detained.