Biden Administration Keeping Public in the Dark About Immigrant Detention Numbers

Austin Kocher, PhD
2 min readNov 15, 2021

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is actively undermining Congress by failing to release accurate information about the number of immigrants in detention on a regular basis. While minor data issues with ICE’s regular immigration detention data releases certainly occurred during the Trump administration, ICE’s spreadsheet of detention data has seen more significant errors recently. The most recent detention data released by the agency on November 11, 2021, appears to be an attempt to fix botched year-end data that the agency released at the end of October. At this point, the public is in the dark about any new detention data for FY 2022.


As ICE states on its detention management website, “Congressional requirements described in the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill (2020) require ICE to make the following data publicly accessible.”

Since at least 2019, ICE has released data about immigrant detention that allows the public to see how many immigrants are held in detention, criminal history, detention center locations, and more — essential information for ensuring that the public understands this important policy area. (See my previous explanation of detention data here.)

Detention Data Gets Worse Under Biden

On several occasions since Biden took office, inconsistencies have begun appearing in the data. I wrote about this a month ago, at the time noting ongoing issues with errors in the data on how many immigrants are enrolled in Alternatives to Detention Programs. Troubling as those inconsistencies were, they did not (at the time) completely undermine the data on immigrant detention altogether.

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Austin Kocher, PhD

I study America’s immigration enforcement system. Assistant Professor at TRAC. Graduate of OSU Geography. Online at