The number of immigrants being held in detention centers across the U.S. is the lowest it’s been in nearly a decade, possibly signaling a change in a federal mandate called a “bed quota.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers range from stand alone prison-like facilities to county jails. They hold non-American citizens who are facing deportation for various reasons, including committing a crime or being in the country illegally.
Some members of Congress and high-ranking officials in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have insisted a line in a federal law mandating 34,000 detention beds across the country is actually a quota — requiring ICE to lock up a daily average of 34,000 people.
But the latest federal government figures show the average daily detainee population for the first five months of fiscal 2015 was 26,374. Last year, an average of more than 33,000 people were being held on a daily basis, and since 2007, the number has always been more than 30,000.