Detention by the numbers


Where are people detained in the United States?

Freedom for Immigrants maintains the most up-to-date map of the U.S. immigration detention system.  The map keeps track of the more than 200 immigrant prisons and jails in the U.S. as well as the programs in our visitation network. Click on the map to learn more. 

Map data is from fiscal year 2019. All data below is from fiscal year 2018. 

Which states detain the most immigrants?

According to federal government data, Texas (15,852), California (6,527), Arizona (3,869), Georgia (3,717), and Louisiana (3,143) are the top five states with the largest number of people in U.S. immigration detention per day.  

It costs more taxpayer dollars to detain people in Washington ($145.19 per person per day) and California ($144.35) than any other state.  This includes the cost of guards, healthcare, and other direct costs.

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How many people are detained in private immigrant prisons?

According to federal government data, over 60 percent of people are held in privately-run immigrant prisons. For example, GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America/CoreCivic together detain approximately 15,000 people in immigration detention per day.



Who profits from immigration detention?

According to federal government data, GEO Group receives more taxpayer dollars for immigration detention than any other ICE contractor. In FY 2017, GEO Group received $184 million, followed by Corrections Corporation of America/CoreCivic that received $135 million for immigration detention related service obligations.

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Is it more cost effective to detain people in privately-run immigrant prisons?

No. According to federal government data, it costs $149.58 taxpayer dollars to detain one person for one day in a privately-run immigrant prisons, as opposed to $98.27 in a municipal-run immigrant jail.

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Who is held in immigration detention?

The U.S. government does not maintain reliable demographics of who is in immigration detention, although government data indicate that the median age of a person deported by ICE is 30 years old.  Freedom for Immigrants’ data, collected from thousands of intakes with people in immigration detention, shows that most people in immigrant detention are between 26 to 35 years old.

Most people are from Mexico, followed by El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Most people are from Mexico, followed by El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

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How long are people held in immigration detention?

Federal government data obtained by TRAC indicate that 70 percent of people in immigration detention are held in U.S. immigration detention for 1 month or less; in fact, many people were released the same day they were detained, indicating that ICE did not need to obtain court approval to deport these individuals.

Federal government data obtained by the ILRC indicate that, on average, immigrant prisons and jails are holding people for longer periods of time under the Trump administration than under the Obama administration.  In FY 2017, the average length of stay at any one immigrant prison or jail was 34 days, compared to 22 days in FY 2016 and 21 days in FY 2015.

The top 10 immigrant prisons and jails that hold people the longest include:


Freedom for Immigrants works mostly with people who have been in immigration detention beyond one month.  In fact, approximately 48 percent of people we work with are held in immigration detention for 2 to 4 years, although about 5 percent of people are held in immigration detention for over 4 years.  Only about 7 percent of people we work with in immigration detention are held for less than 6 months.

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What types of abuse are reported in immigration detention?

The top complaint we receive from people in immigration detention is medical neglect/abuse.

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Immigration detention worldwide

There are no known statistics for the total number of immigration detention facilities and the number of immigrants detained per year worldwide.  Freedom for Immigrants has created this map based on data obtained by the Global Detention Project.

The Global Detention Project (GDP) estimates that there have been at least 2,000 facilities used for immigration-related purposes in approximately 100 different countries over the last decade.  


Imagine someone you loved was detained in another country 

That is what happened to U.S. citizen Lorraine Dalrymple whose son died in immigration detention in England:

“The UK Border Agency took away my son’s freedom that day and by placing him in a detention centre thereby accepting responsibility for his care. It would be a care so fragmented and disorganised that his mental condition would deteriorate to the point of him losing his dignity … and finally due to lack of appropriate health care ultimately led to his death”
— Lorraine Dalrymple, mother of U.S. citizen who died in a GEO Group-run immigration detention facility in England.