I don’t know about many outside of New York City, but it’s not uncommon to see the following scenario: You see a cop–or parking meter attendant–walking down a street and checking the parking meters as they pass to see if any of the cars which stand beside them have expired the allotted time they are allowed to be parked.
And if you stand there and pay attention you just watch and witness as this officers becomes alight when spotting the glorious flash of a red and white with a digitized 0:00. With a cheerful response they pull out their ticket device, print a ticket, place it atop the car, and move on hunting for more.
When we see this there’s a unified thought of: “There goes a cop trying to make their quota.” Heck, there’s even a A&E show called Parking Wars that showcases the proverbial hate for the parking authority and their eagerness to meet their ticket quota that police officers and parking meter attendants have to comply to.
This scenario tends to irk some of us.
We see the pursuit of trying to comply with a quota, one that is at the expense of another, as being unfair or just wrong. But did you know there is currently a quota on the number of immigrants who should be in detention while they resolve their status as an immigrant or not?
Over the past few months, especially before President Barack Obama’s re-election, we applauded Congress for passing a bipartisan supported bill for immigration reform. However, there may be some attachments to the bill that may halt the applause especially when it comes to matters of funding.
One attachment is the minimum quota of 34,000 immigrants who must be in detention on a daily basis in order for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be funded. This number does not indicate the number of immigrants that Congress wants to have deported, but it is a number of immigrants that should be incarcerated as they await their fate in the battle of their status.
“No other law enforcement agencies have a quota for the number of people that they must keep in jail,” said Ted Deutch, a Democrat Representative from Florida in a interview with Bloomberg News.
In an opinion piece with the Daily News, Robert M. Morgenthau discusses this quota and highlights its meaning.
In a 1,582 page government funding bill appears a quota which requires that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement–or commonly referred to as ICE–division maintain a number of immigrants in lock-ups through the use of the term “beds.”
“If that sounds like a lot of detainees, it is,” said Morgenthau, about the choice of wording the bill contains.
Since 2005 the number of undocumented immigrants in this country has been reasonably the same. However, the average number of immigrants in detention was below 20,000 in 2005 than it is now. The increase in number may be due to a law passed in 2007 by Congress which set a detention number of immigrants to 34,000. This number has been in place since.
Last year, in a public letter to ICE Director John Morton the U.S House of Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul accused Morton of being “in clear violation of the statute” of the minimum 34,000 immigrant detainees they were supposed to have after the prisoner population dropped to an estimated 30, 773.
When she tried to oppose the number requirement, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Congress that “we ought to be detaining according to our priorities, according to public-safety threats, level of offense, and the like, not an arbitrary bed number.”
But her objection failed to do anything.
In a recent data constructed by Syracuse University, the pending period of the average immigration case within immigration can last to about 570 days without any resolution being struck.
According to Morgenthau, the immigrants detained in New York alone—about 60% of them—are not, “represented by counsel. Forced to defend themselves, their cases drag on endlessly.”
While the dragging on of an immigration status case may be appealing, because you do not face immediate deportation, the process can be irksome having to wait in prison for one of the “beds”. The endless period can hinder the life of a freed immigrant and be viewed as a torturous imprisonment.
Another interesting circumstance of this quota created by Congress is the desire to keep immigrant detainee quotas up during the litigation process. With a quota held upon ICE the idea of a fair trial is non-existent if you are required to keep a number of “beds” filled. Also, lawyers slated to represent the ICE division cannot do their job.
A lawyer may not be able to persecute a dangerous immigrant detainee separate as opposed to a non-threatening immigrant if they are required to adhere to the number immigrants detained in order to keep its funding.
This quota addition enacted by Congress doesn’t better the life of the immigrant or anyone else involved. One of the detention “beds” could go to someone who is a danger to the country rather than an innocent man or woman. The quota becomes a counter-force to the fundamental idea of justice for all in this country.
How can justice be served if those who are serving it on behalf of others is blinded by the need to reach a numbered set?