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Chairman Green on Biden Plan to Close Dilley Detention Facility: “Just More Smoke and Mirrors from the Biden Administration”

June 12, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN) released the following statement after reports that the Biden administration plans to close an immigration detention facility in Dilley, Texas, a center specifically designed for the detention of family units: 
“This is just more smoke and mirrors from the Biden administration. The fact is that ever since 2021, Secretary Mayorkas has consistently asked for fewer ICE beds than the previous administration, and then failed to make use of the resources Congress ultimately authorized—despite record numbers of illegal crossings on his watch. So far just this month, thousands of ICE beds have gone unused, so forgive me if I don’t take the administration’s rhetoric about ‘freeing up resources’ very seriously. DHS can talk tough about increasing capacity—but we know they won’t actually use it. This is also clearly a concerted effort to make detention of family units even harder in the future, as the Dilley facility is designed specifically for that purpose. Biden and Mayorkas stopped detaining family units years ago, but it seems they are working to hamstring the next administration’s efforts to do so, as well. As with most of this administration’s border initiatives, it’s all sound—and little fury.”
Background: The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires the detention of inadmissible aliens, from the time they are encountered by DHS law enforcement until they are found to have a lawful reason to remain in the country. The Biden administration has embraced an unlawful policy of non-detention, including for family units. Federal judge Kent Wetherell wrote in a 2023 decision striking down now-impeached Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ Parole + ATD policy, “The evidence establishes that in late January or early February of 2021, DHS made a discrete change in detention policy from ‘release only if there is a compelling reason to’ to ‘release unless there is a compelling reason not to.’” 
Mayorkas himself has made numerous, troubling statements about DHS’ detention mandate, telling a House subcommittee in May 2021, “I am concerned about the overuse of detention,” and before a Senate committee a year later, he stated, without evidence or warrant, that detention “has been misused in the immigration system for many years.” 
Under his leadership, DHS has repeatedly requested fewer Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention beds than the previous administration, despite record numbers of illegal aliens crossing the border on his watch. In its FY2021 budget, the Trump administration requested 60,000 beds. By FY2023 and FY2024, the Biden administration was requesting less than half that number (25,000). Following Mayorkas’ open-borders directives, ICE has also routinely failed to utilize the detention space authorized by Congress. For example, in the FY2024 appropriations bill recently passed by Congress, DHS was authorized 41,500 ICE beds, available on an average daily basis, but the number of beds actually used on an average daily basis has consistently fallen below that number. In June so far, ICE is only utilizing around 37,500 beds.