Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 11/2010

U.S. Detention of Asylum Seekers: Seeking Protection, Finding Prison

June 2009

Human Rights First


Since 2003, U.S. immigration authorities have spent more than $300 million to detain over 48,000 asylum seekers in jails and jail-like facilities. Some of the facilities are located in remote areas, far from legal representation. Asylum seekers are detained in a system that lacks basic due process safeguards and is inconsistent with America's longstanding commitment to protect those who flee from persecution. The report outlines ways to improve this process in ways that are more cost-effective, just, and humane.