How Immigration Reform Could Expand Incarceration of Immigrants

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 The House made its first formal foray into immigration reform yesterday at a lengthy Judiciary Committee hearing in which Republicans struck a familiar chord. Despite record-setting deportation levels in recent years, Republican members of the committee were in broad agreement that they want even more enforcement before they could sign onto the comprehensive reform ideas laid out by Senate negotiators and President Obama.

“There is not in my opinion very much enforcement going on at all in the interior of the country,” said Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican.

The heightened enforcement that Goodlatte and others seek raises a thorny question for the immigration reform process: Will it address the dire concerns many have about the ways in which immigrants are detained while awaiting deportation?

Immigration reform advocates around the country are raising concerns about the sprawling complex of prisons and detention centers, run often by private corporations, that are used to lock up non-citizens. Today, a group of senators led by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy will release a strongly worded letter to colleagues calling for greater protections for immigrants inside those detention centers. Read more here.