In recent weeks there have been a slew of baseless and absurd claims by some far-left Democrats comparing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities for illegal immigrants to notorious Nazi concentration camps where millions of Jews and others were tortured and brutally murdered.

The comparison is insane and dishonors the memory of all the men, women and children put to death by the Nazis. It also dishonors the memories of all the members of the U.S. military who bravely fought and sometimes were killed in World War II to defeat the Nazis and their Axis allies.

And the comparison falsely implies that hardworking ICE officers dedicated to enforcing U.S. immigration laws are in the same category as Nazi mass murderers – an outrageous and delusional lie.


The ridiculous comparison is an attempt by those on the left to push a false narrative that they hope will convince the American people that no illegal immigrants entering the United States should be detained. This would mean that America would have open borders, only worsening our immigration crisis.

If we do not have the ability to detain those who illegally enter our country until they see a judge and plead their case, we will never solve the immigration crisis. Border and illegal crossings will then skyrocket beyond the already unprecedented levels. I know this for a fact, based on my experience over more than three decades of enforcing U.S. immigration laws.

We have several Democratic senators and House members running for their party’s presidential nomination who have said they would end immigration detention and what they call “for-profit prisons." These candidates who have been or who are currently lawmakers are ignoring facts.

Here are a few facts that the left does not want you to know.

Some 72 percent of all migrants detained in an ICE facility are congressionally mandated to be detained. In other words, laws passed by Congress and signed by past presidents require that ICE detain these illegal immigrants. If ICE released them, the agency would be breaking the law.

If we do not have the ability to detain those who illegally enter our country until they see a judge and plead their case, we will never solve the immigration crisis. Border and illegal crossings will then skyrocket beyond the already unprecedented levels. I know this for a fact, based on my experience over more than three decades of enforcing U.S. immigration laws.

Another fact: nearly 90 percent of migrants arrested by ICE in the interior of the United States are either convicted criminals or face pending criminal charges.

If you simply look at the current recidivism rates, about half of criminals will re-offend within a year and as many as 75 percent will re-offend within five years. So these so-called “prisons for profit” are helping to keep our communities safe. There is no question about that.

The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics tracks the death rate of incarcerated individuals across the nation. A quick review of those reports will show that the average death rate in state prisons was 256 deaths per 100,000 persons. The death rate in federal prisons during the same period was 225 deaths per 100,000.

More than 400,000 people go through the ICE system every year and ICE averages nine total deaths per year, meaning that less than three out of every 100,000 people in ICE custody die. We wish the number was zero, of course, but the fact that it is as low as it is shows the great effort ICE makes to safeguard the health of detainees.

ICE detainees are held for shorter time periods than inmates in state prisons and local jails, so comparing death rates is difficult. Nevertheless, the fact that the death rate in ICE facilities averages in the single digits annually reflects well on those facilities.

The low death rate in ICE detention facilities is extraordinary, considering most of the ICE population comes from countries that don't have good medical systems and many of the ICE detainees have never seen a doctor in their lives. Also, as can be seen by recent news reports, many of these people sent to ICE detention were in physically bad shape when turned over. The low death rate in ICE detention can only be attributed to an outstanding medical program and dedicated personnel.

ICE contracts most of its detention to outside companies that construct and operate detention facilities not only for the federal government, but also for state and local governments. The left likes to call these “for-profit prisons” as a way to raise controversy of what they do.

However, these companies are used widely because they maintain detention facilities better and cheaper than the government. When I was the ICE director, I can tell you that some of our most expensive detainee beds were in facilities that ICE owned.

Using outside contractors that run facilities like this as their core business function not only saves millions of dollars in taxpayer funds, but increases the quality of care those being detained receive.

The quality of care afforded those in ICE-contracted detention facilities is better than you would find in any federal or state institution. ICE also contracts some short-term beds from local sheriffs.

When I was the ICE director, I had numerous sheriffs across the country who would end their contract with ICE or refuse to contract with ICE to hold our detainees because our detention standards were too high.

Numerous sheriffs would tell me that they would not provide such high levels of standards for illegal immigrants in their jails when they don’t provide these programs to jailed U.S. citizens.

ICE is fully committed to the highest level of quality, providing safe, secure, and humane environments for those in ICE custody and care. Contracted facilities operate pursuant to and in compliance with strict governmental standards, as well as accreditation and certification standards set by medical accreditation agencies, educational agencies and the ICE Detention Standards.

ICE detention facilities are managed based on the standards set by applicable third-party accreditation agencies, including the American Correctional Association, the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare, The Commission on Jail Standards, and The Joint Commission on Healthcare.

When ICE was created, the agency operated its detention system under a set of National Detention Standards, which were based upon the policies and procedures that existed at the time of the issuance of these standards in September 2000.

NDS established consistent conditions of confinement. ICE subsequently undertook a revision of these standards to more clearly delineate the results or outcomes to be accomplished by adherence to their requirements.

The 2008 Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS), developed in coordination with agency stakeholders, prescribe both the expected outcomes of each detention standard and the expected practices required to achieve them.

PBNDS 2008 was also designed to improve safety, security and conditions of confinement for detainees. In keeping with its commitment to reform the immigration detention system, ICE further revised its detention standards in 2011.

The Performance-Based National Detention Standards 2011 (PBNDS 2011) reflect ICE's ongoing effort to tailor the conditions of immigration detention to its unique purpose, while maintaining a safe and secure detention environment for staff and detainees and represent an important step in detention reform.

These standards were drafted with the input of many ICE personnel across the nation, as well as the perspectives of nongovernmental organizations.

PBNDS 2011 is crafted to improve medical and mental health services, increase access to legal services and religious opportunities, improve communication with detainees with limited English proficiency, improve the process for reporting and responding to complaints, reinforce protections against sexual abuse and assault, and increase recreation and visitation.

ICE began implementing PBNDS 2011 across its detention facilities several years ago, with priority initially given to facilities housing the largest populations of ICE detainees.

Here’s the bottom line: No one wants to be held in detention. No one would argue that being held is a pleasant experience. And right now a huge influx of illegal immigrants is straining the capacity of ICE to detain them.


But federal officials are doing their utmost to hold detainees in facilities that meet high standards, to keep the detainees healthy, and to prevent deaths of detainees.

To compare federal illegal immigrant detention facilities to Nazi concentration camps is a hateful and detestable lie that no one should believe.