There was much controversy last week about federal officials releasing hundreds of immigrants from detention centers ahead of the looming budget cuts. But the real issue should be that U.S. taxpayers foot the steep bill to detain more than 30,000 people every day — not that a group of immigrants who pose little threat to public safety were transferred out of federal facilities last week.
Whatever the circumstances surrounding the move out of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention, the result is smarter enforcement that could save the federal government tens of thousands of dollars per day, if not hundreds of thousands, based on data from the president’s most recent budget request.
We are all for detaining criminals. But those now on supervised release are the kind of people who should never have been in detention in the first place. Miguel Hernandez, for example, had been detained after being pulled over for not using his car’s turn signal. Not exactly a criminal offense.
Don’t get me wrong: We should all use our turn signals. But we should not lose sleep because Hernandez is out of detention. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has emphasized that no serious criminal offenders were transferred. Given the agency’s propensity to detain criminals and non-criminals alike, we have no reason to doubt their reassurances.
In addition, neither Hernandez nor anyone else has been entirely freed. Transferred detainees are supervised, must still appear in court and are still in deportation proceedings.