With over 2.3 million persons behind bars in the US, we currently have incarcerated almost three times the amount of those incarcerated in China. This is a particularly alarming fact since we have a fraction of the population of China and we also view them as a communist repressive regime. In the past five years those jailed have increased by five times the amount of prior years and it is now the highest ever. Paradoxically, we are spending less and less on education and rehabilitation and more on punishment it seems. Also surprisingly, we have never been safer than we are now and crime levels are way down. According to the Executive Director Cornell Brooks of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, at the rate of $ 100,000 per adult per year for incarceration our communities and decrease in jobs are paying a heavy toll. Based on current research crime levels decline was a statistical and socially documented reality prior to the increased enforcement of incarceration.
These scare tactics have distracted and derailed immigration reform that is vitally needed. In fact, according to U.S.Customs and Border Patrol statistics the number of illegal persons apprehended at the Southwest border has dramatically declined. In 2011 only 280,592 were apprehended as opposed to 447,731 persons in 2010. The amount of persons trying to enter the U.S. has steadily and drastically declined in the past ten years from 1,634,679 in 2000 to its current rate. Current trends show that the number of apprehensions in 2011 is the lowest in 40 years and illegal immigration has fallen to levels last seen in the Nixon administration.
Thus horror stories of out-of-control border insecurity is simply a myth and an excuse for inaction on the dysfunctional present reality of a broken immigration system. The question remains as to what to do with those 10 million plus illegal immigrants who are currently in the US and have no means of relief under our current draconian rules since the passing of IIRIRA and AEDPA in 1996 and 1997. They cannot or will not return home and leave their families of legal spouse and children when there is no prospect of being able to return due to the 10 year bar that prevents almost all of them from ever reentering or seeing their family again. Often,they have no ties left to their native home country after having been here a decade or more. Furthermore, they cannot afford to leave everything behind and start all over again in a country with which they frequently have no ability to work. Those incarcerated for immigration purposes are a huge financial drain on society as over 70 percent have no criminal charges but have over-stayed their visas here.
One group of people are however, making this financially profitable. This is Immigration and Customs Enforcement ( ICE) contractors and the administration for the jails. Since federal dollars are given for each detainee who is a foreign national in jail, there is a large amount of tax payer dollars that are funding the detention of persons who have no crimes and could be out there working and paying taxes instead.
Danielle Beach-Oswald is the current President and Managing Partner of Beach-Oswald Immigration Law Associates in Washington, DC. Ms. Beach utilizes her 19 years of experience in immigration law to help individuals immigrate to the United States for humanitarian reasons. Born in Brussels, Belgium, Ms. Beach has lived in England, Belgium, Italy and Ivory Coast and has traveled extensively to many countries. Ms. Beach advocates for clients from around the world who seek freedom from torture in their country, or who are victims of domestic violence and trafficking. She has also represented her clients at U.S. Consulates in Romania, China, Canada, Mexico, and several African countries. With her extensive experience in family-based and employment-based immigration law Ms. Beach not only assists her clients in obtaining a better standard of living in the United States, she also helps employers obtain professional visas, and petitions for family members. She also handles many complex naturalization issues. Ms. Beach has unique expertise representing clients in immigration matters pending before the Federal District Courts, Circuit Courts, Board of Immigration Appeals and Immigration Courts. She has won over 400 humanitarian cases in the United States. Her firm's website is www.boilapc.com.