Booker, Jayapal, Smith Reintroduce Bicameral Bill to Transform the Immigration Detention System and End Inhumane Conditions at Facilities

Booker, Jayapal, Smith Reintroduce Bicameral Bill to Transform the Immigration Detention System and End Inhumane Conditions at Facilities


NOTE: The list of cosponsors has been corrected and updated.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) reintroduced the bicameral Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, legislation that targets the inhumane conditions of detention centers and protects the civil and human rights of immigrants. U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Adam Smith (D-WA) reintroduced the companion bill in the House.


Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Stop future attempts to reinstate family detention
  • End the use of private prisons and county jails to detain immigrants
  • Set humane standards for detention facilities
  • Increase oversight of these facilities to eliminate abuse, and
  • Better protect the civil rights of immigrant detainees.


“Our immigration system has allowed for the unjust treatment of immigrants and stripped them of their humanity and due process. We must respect and protect the basic rights of immigrants detained in the United States. I am proud to reintroduce this bill that would ensure our immigration system aligns with our country’s core values,” said Senator Booker.


“There’s no question that our immigration system is broken,” said Representative Jayapal. “The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act urgently reforms the alarming injustices of a broken, for-profit immigration detention system by ending the use of private detention facilities altogether, repealing mandatory detention, and prohibiting family detention while also restoring due process and increasing oversight, accountability, and transparency measures. This is a measure that will go a long way to restore humanity and dignity to the immigration system.”


“We cannot wait any longer to reform our broken immigration system to ensure it is humane and just,” said Representative Smith. “The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act would overhaul our immigration detention system by ending mandatory detention, promoting community-based alternatives, and ending the use of private, for-profit detention centers that have a shameful history of prioritizing their own profits over the civil and human rights of children and families. This bill is a crucial step forward to bringing due process back to our immigration system and centering the humanity and dignity of people who come to our country to build a better life. I thank my colleagues Congresswoman Jayapal and Senator Booker for their leadership on this issue.”


The legislation would inject much-needed justice and oversight in the American immigration system by taking steps to:

  • Repeal mandatory detention; 
  • Prohibit the detention of families and children in family detention;
  • Phase-out the use of private detention facilities and jails over a three-year period
  • Create a presumption of release and impose a higher burden of proof to detain primary caregivers and vulnerable populations, including asylum seekers, pregnant women, LGBTQ individuals, survivors of torture or gender-based violence, and people under age 21;
  • Prohibit the detention of anyone under age 18 in a facility operated or contracted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE);
  • Require DHS to establish civil detention standards that provide, at minimum, the level of protection in the American Bar Association’s Civil Immigration Detention Standards;
  • Mandate the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct unannounced inspections with meaningful penalties for failure to comply with standards.


The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).


The full text of the bill can be found here.

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