Trump said undocumented immigrants wouldn't go to detention centers. Now he plans to build more.

Suspected illegal immigrants are transferred out of the holding area after being processed at the Tucson Sector of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection headquarters in Arizona.
Source: Ross D. Franklin/AP
Suspected illegal immigrants are transferred out of the holding area after being processed at the Tucson Sector of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection headquarters in Arizona.
Source: Ross D. Franklin/AP

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump vowed to not use immigrant detention centers as part of his crackdown on undocumented people entering the United States. 

"I’m not going to put them in a detention center," he once told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly. 

You can add this to the list of Trump's broken campaign promises

The Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday that not only does the administration plan to use detention facilities, but that Trump also wants to build a lot more of them.

The set of documents details new plans to dramatically ramp up immigration enforcement and, among other things, increase the number of detention centers around the country used to detain undocumented individuals during deportation proceedings.

During his August interview with O'Reilly, Trump insisted he wasn’t going to put anyone in a detention center. In fact, he claimed he had never heard the term.

O’REILLY: The actual seizure of human beings, taking them from their homes and putting them in a detention center so that their illegal alien status can be adjudicated ...

TRUMP: You don’t have to put them in a detention center. Bill, you’re the first one to mention a detention center. You don’t have to put them in a detention center.

O’REILLY: OK, so you wouldn’t do that, you would keep them in their homes ...

TRUMP: No, I never said — I’ve never even heard the term, I’m not going to put them in a detention center.

Unsurprisingly, Trump has already broken that promise by placing undocumented immigrants in the facilities of which he claimed no knowledge. Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old "Dreamer" without a criminal history, was taken into custody Feb. 10 and remains in an immigration detention center located on top of a federal cleanup site contaminated with industrial pollutants.

While both Democratic and Republican administrations have used detention centers to carry out deportations, activists say they aren't necessary. Rather, the American Civil Liberties Union advocates the use of "alternatives to detention" to make sure individuals do not flee to avoid immigration proceedings. Such ATDs range from formal monitoring programs to community-supported initiatives.

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Andrew Joyce

I cover politics and policy.

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