Report: Banking on Detention

Local Lockup Quotas & the Immigration Dragnet

From Detention Watch Network (DWN) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)

Banking on Detention: Local Lockup Quotas and the Immigration Dragnet (2015) explores and exposes the depth of local lockup quotas in immigrant detention across 15 facilities in half of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICR) field offices under the Obama administration. Major areas with local quotas include: Los Angeles, San Antonio, Phoenix, Miami, Seattle, Houston, San Diego, Buffalo, New Orleans, and Newark. The report draws on data obtained from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and subsequent litigation filed by Detention Watch Network (DWN) and the Center for Constitutional Rights, along with the Seton Hall Law Clinic.

Through FOIA, DWN and CCR requested information and documents pertaining to the so-called "detention bed quota," the decision-making surrounding the quota, and its impact on detention policy and detention contracting decisions. Not only did the information we received helped advocates and congressional representatives during the Obama administration push for ending the Congressional bed quota, but documents revealed to the public the local lock-up quotas that have become pervasive in both privately and publicly-run immigrant detention.

In 2016, DWN and CCR published an updated report, which included more information obtained through FOIA about the local lockup quotas.

Top lines from the report:

  • By requiring ICE to fill a certain number of detention beds on a daily basis at specific facilities, the U.S. government is allowing private interests a hand in setting policy on immigration enforcement and detention, while at the same time padding their bottom line.
  • "Guaranteed minimums" predate the national quota's inception and have existed at least since 2003. Guaranteed minimums exist in 12 ICE field offices, half of ICE field offices across the country, and account for a quota of more than 8,500 individuals combined.
  • The guaranteed minimum at the ICE field office in San Antonio is the highest of any in the country at more than 2,000 individuals.
  • GEO Group has been the most successful company in getting guaranteed minimums incorporated into their contracts. As such, GEO Group facilities may be prioritized in order to fill local quotas.


Last modified 

May 24, 2019