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'Bed mandate' ensures 34,000 immigrants are detained each day

Undocumented Immigrants are led through the gate at a border control station after being deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in Brownsville, TX.

With the debt ceiling raised for a while and the government reopened, President Obama is calling for lawmakers to  buckle down and get to work on such sweeping matters as the half-trillion dollar farm bill and the overhaul of the immigration system. On that last one, there's renewed attention to a little-known directive from Congress known as the "bed mandate."

As The Washington Post highlighted, it's a kind of quota. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has to keep an average of 34,000 people detained each day. The measure has key support from members of Congress who want to draw a hard line against the kind of immigration that can compete for American jobs and raise costs of social services. And this "bed mandate" has fueled a powerful industry, something Enrique Acevedo journalist and anchor at Univision News has been following.  

"We're talking about over 200 facilities around the country, that's more than 150,000 bed spaces. The 'bed mandate' argues that at least 34,000 of those beds should be filled every day," Acevedo says. "We're talking about federal spending on detention that reaches $2.8 billion every year -- that's been doubling since 2006 -- at a time when budget issues have become a frequent discussion in Washington."

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio

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