Putting TRAC to Work
  Legal and Scholarly — TRAC Fellows
Southern California Law Review
November 2018

A National Study of Immigration Detention in the United States
By Emily Ryo and Ian Peacock

TRAC Fellows analyze key detention outcomes, and pay special attention to two features of the U.S. detention system that have become a focal point of growing concern among advocates, scholars, and policymakers. The first is the expanding role of private companies in the U.S. detention system. According to a recent government report, 65% of the average daily detainee population as of September 2016 were confined in facilities operated by private, for-profit contractors. The second prominent feature of the current U.S. detention system relates to the location—or more precisely, the relative remoteness—of many of the detention facilities. In short, they assess whether the detention outcomes of interest in this study are related to confinement in privately operated facilities and in facilities that are located outside of major urban areas. The remainder of this Article proceeds in three major parts. Part I provides the basic legal, political, and research context for understanding immigration detention as it has evolved over time and as it stands now. Part II describes the data they analyze in this Article. They obtained and merged three major datasets to conduct their analyses. The primary dataset comes from records that ICE provided to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (“TRAC”) pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). This dataset consists of longitudinal information on each individual detained by ICE during fiscal year 2015. The second dataset is a compilation of geocoded records that allow them to examine distances to and from detention facilities and other locations of interest in this study. The third dataset consists of records that Human Rights Watch obtained through FOIA from ICE on the complaints and grievances that detainees and other stakeholders submitted involving the detention facilities. Part III presents our key empirical findings.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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