By Miriam Raftery
Photo: Creative Commons image by SA-NC via Bing
March 14, 2022 (San Diego) – The Biden administration has announced a 120-day pilot program in Houston and Baltimore to test placing migrants into house arrest as an alternative to detention facilities while they await immigration hearings. The home curfew program would cost only $6 to $8 a day per person, far less than the $142 per day for detention in a facility, Reuters reports.
Around 145,000 detainees who don’t pose security threats are already allowed to be released with ankle bracelets and regular checking in with case managers if they travel, but home confinement is not currently required. The new program would generally require participants to stay home overnight from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. except in certain circumstances, such as for those who have jobs that require night work.
The pilot program will have only a few hundred people enrolled. If successfully, the Biden administration could seek funding from Congress for up to 400,000 migrants as a more humane option to staying locked up in detention centers that lack adequate space while awaiting hearings to determine whether or not they will be granted asylum. Many have fled violence in Central America or Mexico.
The program has already drawn critics on both left and right. An immigration advocate called the proposal “mass e-carceration” after Axios first reported details of the pilot.
Congressman Darrell Issa (R-San Diego) opposes the plan. He has introduced the “No Alternatives to Detention for Illegals Act” that would halt the program. Even though the administration estimates the program would save taxpayers money by reducing the per-person cost of detaining immigrants, Issa states in a press release, “Ending illegal immigrant detention and replacing it with publicly funded private housing is a dangerous mistake and only a continuation of this Administration’s disastrous open borders policies.”
He further criticized Biden for not doing enough to bolster border security.