Alternatives to Immigration Detention: An Overview

Mar 17, 2022
  • Description

The United States has broad authority to detain certain categories of immigrants, migrants, and others seeking humanitarian protection as their proceedings wind their way through the immigration legal system. This detention is "civil" by definition (as opposed to criminal), meaning that immigration detention should not be punitive in nature. Despite this technical legal distinction, most of the immigration detention infrastructure is indistinguishable from the criminal detention context, in some instances using the same facilities and private corporations to operate detention centers and jails. This fact sheet provides an overview of the wide range of programs that provide alternatives to detention (ATDs).