A progressive member of the U.S. Congress from Arizona is asking President Joe Biden’s administration not to expand U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities, and to end contracts for private detention centers, despite the fact that illegal alien crossings at the U.S. southern border continue to surge.

“Multiple investigations into these private prisons found substandard living conditions for detained people, crowding, under-staffing, and even deaths of people in custody,” a letter signed by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ-03) said. “And while President Biden issued an Executive Order ending the Department of Justice’s use of for-profit prisons, it does not apply to immigration detention facilities.”

Progressive Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-07) and Jason Crow (D-CO-06) joined Grijalva in signing the letter, which says they represent over 100 members of Congress in their message to the Biden administration.

“Studies consistently show that most people are best equipped to successfully complete their removal proceedings when they have full access to the support of their families and communities and legal representation,” the members of Congress said in the letter. “As you review the detention system, we ask that you halt the expansion of ICE detention and urge you to embrace community-based alternatives to detention.”

The letter did not say what “community-based alternatives to detention” entail.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), there has been a massive surge in illegal aliens crossing into the United States during the Biden administration.

The numbers – which account only for CBP’s encounters with illegal aliens and does not include those who have crossed undetected – peaked in July of last year when CBP encountered 213,593 illegal border crossers.

That number has been in the hundreds of thousands every month since February of 2021, just a month after Biden took office and took executive action to stop building a wall at the border.

The latest recorded numbers, which are from January, show that 153,941 illegal aliens were encountered during the first month of this year alone. By comparison, that number was 45,139 during the first month of 2020, when President Donald Trump held office.

The Biden administration has also placed significant limitations on which illegal aliens can be deported, including limiting the deportation of convicted criminals.

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Pete D’Abrosca is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Raúl Grijalva” by Raúl Grijalva. Photo “Processing at the San Ysidro Port of Entry” by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.