Congressman Keith Ellison

Representing the 5th District of Minnesota


Rep. Ellison & Colleagues Send Letter Opposing ICE’s Planned Expansion of Detention Sites around St. Paul

Nov 14, 2017
Press Release


WASHINGTON – Rep. Keith Ellison led six members of the Minnesota Congressional delegation in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement opposing their plan to expand immigration detention facilities by up to 600 beds in and around St. Paul, Minnesota.

“This plan would mean more indiscriminate arrests, more wrongful detention of our neighbors, and more chaotic fear sown in streets across our state. This is not an answer — it’s a scapegoat that will devastate countless American families, businesses, and communities. I am proud to stand with my fellow Minnesotans in Congress to oppose this plan.”

The full letter reads as follows:

“Dear Acting Secretary Duke and Acting Director Roman:

We write to express our serious concerns regarding the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s plan to expand the number of detention sites in Minnesota and around the country. While we understand the need to detain those who pose security risks, expanding the practice of indefinite detention of undocumented immigrants harms countless American families, businesses, and communities. We urge you to reverse this plan.

In Minnesota, the average immigration legal case takes 646 days to be resolved. As of August 2017, there were 6,075 pending immigration cases in Minnesota alone, hundreds of which are related to the deportation proceedings of detained individuals. This reality is exacerbated by the Administration’s expanded enforcement directives and the elimination of prosecutorial discretion, which previously allowed detainees with a low flight risk to be released pending their hearing. While still taking into account security concerns, we urge you to reduce these burdens on other detainees, such as those that are a low flight risk or considered a low risk to the community, by abandoning your expansion plans and seeking alternatives to detention, which could include the use of prosecutorial discretion, affordable bond, parole, check-ins, and community-based support programs.

Prolonged detentions implicate the constitutional due process rights of detainees, which are currently under active legal review. The Supreme Court’s pending ruling in Jennings v. Rodriguez could significantly alter the legal framework concerning prolonged detention for civil immigration offenses. If the Supreme Court affirms the Ninth Circuit’s holding that individuals detained pending removal proceedings for longer than six months are entitled to the possibility of release after an individualized bond hearing, ICE may be required to reevaluate its detention policies and reduce its estimates of detention bed needs.

Several legal assistance organizations from our communities also wrote to you expressing similar concerns in their letter dated Oct. 26, 2017. These legal assistance organizations stated that they neither have nor expect to have the capacity to meet the increased need for representation that will be generated by ICE’s plan to expand detention sites. Prolonged detentions ultimately incur the most significant costs to our constituents, who are forced to bear the brunt of our broken immigration system.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter. We appreciate you directing your response or any questions to Nicky Leingang (Congressman Ellison) at or at (612) 522-1212.


Rep. Keith Ellison

Rep. Betty McCollum

Sen. Al Franken

Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Rep. Richard M. Nolan

Rep. Tim Walz"