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Report finds lobbying keeps immigrants in detention

South Carolina residents may be interested to learn that according to a report released by Grassroots Leadership, many of the immigrant detention centers throughout the country remain full due to lobbying by private prison corporations who benefit from having beds in those centers filled. There is a dispute within the government as to whether 34,000 beds is a mandate for an actual number of people or simply the number of beds that must be made available.

There have been efforts to introduce bills that remove the mandate, but they have been unsuccessful. As a result, according to one elected official, the mandate must be removed through the appropriations budget for the Department of Homeland Security.

The bed mandate is supposed to ensure that violent offenders such as rapists and murderers are caught and detained, but most of the immigrants in detention are not violent offenders. For example, in 2014, more than 68,000 adults with children crossed the border from Latin America. These immigrants are locked up under what is known as a "no release" policy. Some of them may spend years in detention.

Those who have been detained or fighting deportation may wish to consult an attorney. The government must exercise due process in order to remove a detainee, and having legal representation may increase the chances that one who is detained might be allowed to stay as well as reducing wait time.

Immigration law is complex and changing rapidly, and there may be a number of options available to avoid deportation. It may be possible for a person to be removed from custody while the case is pending.

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