This piece from @AdamSerwer is great and everyone should read it.

That said, I want to dissect one paragraph in it because it encapsulates the extreme difficulty of talking about / reporting on immigration detention.

Take a journey into nuance with me!…
This is the paragraph in @AdamSerwer's piece that I'm going to overthink. It powerfully collects primary source reports about detention, but also:

1. Conflates types of immigration detention;
2. Gets a fact wrong;
3. Mistakenly implies people with legal status aren't detained.
Before I go any further I need to provide some basic background information on the three agencies that appear in the paragraph:

- Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)
Starting with CBP. Who does CBP detain, why, and for how long?

CBP detains people who cross the border, asylum-seekers who go to ports of entry, and anyone arrested by Border Patrol inside the US. CBP detains people for quick (in theory) processing and transfers to ICE or ORR.
Next, ICE. Who does ICE detain, why, and for how long?

ICE detains *any* noncitizen the government is seeking to deport, potentially for as long as the process takes (can be years). ICE detains everyone from undocumented immigrants to asylum seekers to those with green cards.
Finally, ORR, which is a little different.

ORR isn't a detention agency. It contracts with licensed shelters to hold unaccompanied children while searching for a sponsor (usually family) to take the child. But in recent months, ORR has sent kids to unlicensed "influx shelters."
So, let's go back to the paragraph I'm overthinking. I've color coded it to show which agencies @AdamSerwer was referencing or citing to, or what agency generally detains the group he was referencing.

Yellow = CBP
Blue = ICE
Purple = ORR
Green = Either ICE or CBP.
Serwer's article (which, again, is excellent) focuses on recent attention paid to conditions in CBP custody. But as the color coding shows, nuance can be stripped from the distinct and serious problems within each agency by treating immigration detention a monolith. It's not.
For example: The problems detailed in this OIG report are chronic problems within ICE detention facilities that advocates (including my org) have been clamoring about for YEARS.

Terrible conditions in ICE detention are distinct from the overcrowding of families at the border.
Similarly, kids in ORR custody are not in cages. *Most* shelters are run by child welfare professionals, although there are reports of serious problems in a few shelters, especially the new "influx" ones.

/here's the fact error—there are actually 15,000+ kids in ORR shelters.
Finally, Serwer unintentionally gives the impression that ICE is only detaining people without legal status, some of whom are asylum seekers.

But ICE locks up thousands of legal immigrants it's trying to deport, including people with green cards who have been here for decades.
None of what I've said in this thread takes away from the article itself, which presents a fantastic historical comparison to show how CBP's decision to focus on detention over any possibility of release has led to appalling conditions.

But! Nuance is necessary for solutions.
Until we rethink why each agency is doing what it's doing, until we address the problems distinct and separate to each agency, we risk losing sight of actual concrete solutions that require that nuanced analysis.

Anyway! Still a good piece, go read it.…
Addendum with some extra nuance:

- CBP transfers thousands to US Marshals custody for prosecution. Those people go into federal BOP custody then later get transferred to ICE detention.
- ICE detention centers are majority private prisons or state/local jails with ICE contracts.
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