The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reported in November 2017 that the average daily population at immigration detention centers for fiscal year 2018 was 39,322. Last week, Master of Social Work students in Assistant Professor Benjamin Roth’s immigration policy class visited and spoke with individuals at an immigrant detention center in southwestern Georgia. They also toured at a nearby home to serve detained immigrants, families and friends.
Located two hours southwest of Atlanta, the Stewart Detention Center in rural Lumpkin, Georgia is one of the largest immigrant detention centers in the country. The facility houses more than 2,500 detained immigrants awaiting deportation and asylum proceedings.
But according to Roth, the Stewart Detention Center illustrates some of the problems with the country’s immigration system. He explained that detainees have difficulty securing legal counsel and often wait weeks or months before their case is decided by the immigration court located in the facility. Moreover, data has shown that asylum-seekers at Stewart are granted legal relief at a lower rate relative to immigrants in courts at other facilities around the country.