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Costly Move: Far and Frequent Transfers Impede Hearings for Immigrant Detainees in the United States

NCJ Number
Alison Parker
Date Published
June 2011
40 pages
This report by Human Rights Watch examines the problem of immigrant detainees frequently being transferred far from where they live or where their cases are being tried, often impeding their right to fair and speedy hearings.
Major findings by Human Rights Watch regarding the frequent transfer of immigrant detainees include the following: in 2009, 52 percent of detainees experienced at least 1transfer that involved being loaded at some point during their detention onto a government-contracted car, bus, or airplane and transferred from 1 detention center to another; almost 2 million detainee transfers occurred between 1998 and 2010; over 46 percent of transferred detainees were moved at least 2 times, with 3,400 people transferred 10 times or more; on average, each transferred detainee traveled 370 miles, with 1 frequent route between Pennsylvania and Texas covering 1,642 miles; and the estimated transportation costs for the almost 2 million transfers was $366 million over the 12-year period from 1998 to 2010. This report examines the problem of the frequent transfer of immigrant detainees from one detention center to another. The transfers are conducted as part of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program to address illegal immigration. Due to the lack of funding to keep pace with the increase in the number of immigrant detainees, ICE officials rely on the use of subcontracts with State jails and prisons to house this growing population. The report addresses the rights of detainees that are often overlooked as a result of these transfers. These rights include access to legal representation at no cost to the government, curtailing of detainees' ability to defend their rights, and undermining the fairness with which detainees are treated. Recommendations for improving the situation of immigrant detainees are included in the report. Tables and figures