Towards a Data-Driven Understanding of Immigration Detention Capacity and Its Consequences

Awarded Scholars:
Angelina Snodgrass Godoy, University of Washington, Seattle
Project Date:
Oct 2020
Award Amount:
$50,000

Although the immigrant detention system has grown fivefold in the past two decades, with upwards of 50,000 migrants detained on a typical day in 2020, we lack data-driven analyses of how the expansion or contraction of detention capacity affects local communities. Sociologist Angelina Godoy will examine the impact of detention capacity (the number of available beds) by measuring the extent to which changes in capacity lead to a) shifting rates of enforcement in surrounding areas, and/or b) changing bond amounts for detainees in affected facilities. Her preliminary research documents a statistically significant positive association between average daily population and internal enforcement measures (numbers of encounters, arrests, and removals) at the Area of Responsibility (AOR) level for fiscal years 2016-2018. She will analyze the extent to which detention capacity impacts immigration enforcement actions at the AOR level, the level at which decisions about both detention and enforcement are made. She hypothesizes that the need to fill beds generates enforcement patterns that continue over time as ICE officials react. Thus, she will examine the extent to which past changes in detention capacity are associated with future changes in enforcement on a monthly or yearly basis.

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