Immigration Detention: How It Works, What It Costs, and Proposals for Reform

Friday February 01

  • By: American Bar Association - Commission on Immigration
  • Time: 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
  • Time Zone: Eastern Time (US & Canada)
  • Location:
    American Bar Association
    740 Fifteenth Street, NW
    Dirksen 226
    Washington, DC

The American Bar Association (ABA) is pleased to invite you to a briefing for Congressional staff. Panelists including experts who have served in Republican and Democratic Administrations will discuss the current immigration detention system, alternatives to detention, and proposals for reform. The United States currently detains more than 400,000 noncitizen men and women each year at a cost of $2 billion. Immigration detainees are held in about 160 facilities in 42 states across the country, including in many state and local jails and prisons. This briefing will provide an overview of the immigration detention system and how its operations impact the federal budget and families and communities in every state. The panel will discuss alternatives to detention that are available at a fraction of the cost of detention and have been proven effective. The panel will also discuss the new ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards, which were developed to provide a guide for the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS's) announced transition to a civil detention system appropriate to its civil detention authority.


  • Dora B. Schriro
    Commissioner, New York City Department of Correction; formerly Special Advisor to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano on Detention and Removal (2009)
  • Julie Myers Wood
    President - Compliance, Federal Practice and Software Solutions, Guidepost Solutions LLP; formerly Assistant Secretary (Director), DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (2006-08)
  • Donald M. Kerwin, Jr.
    Executive Director, Center for Migration Studies; Acting Executive Director, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.
  • Karen T. Grisez
    Special Counsel, Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson LLP; Member, ABA Commission on Immigration Advisory Committee (Moderator)

The ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards will be available at the briefing and may be ordered or downloaded at For more information please contact Kristi Gaines,, or Megan Mack,, at the American Bar Association.