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Border funding fight bogs down over detention beds. Here's why

Molly O'Toole, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Barely three weeks after parts of the federal government were shut for 35 days in a battle over border security spending, another partial shutdown is possible on Friday.

With negotiations at an impasse, the latest dispute is over beds for detained migrants.

Democrats say limiting the number of detention beds will force the Trump administration to stay within its budget and to stop detaining and deporting undocumented migrants who have broken no other laws.

Administration officials argue Democrats want to release violent criminals into the United States.

"The Democrats do not want us to detain, or send back, criminal aliens!" Trump tweeted Monday. "This is a brand new demand. Crazy!"

Late Monday night, Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Senate and House negotiators had reached an agreement "in principle" but offered no other details.

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Here's what you need to know.

Question: What are detention beds?

Answer: When undocumented migrants are arrested, whether far inland or just inside the border, the space the government has to hold them is generally defined by the number of authorized detention beds.

The current quota, set by Congress, is 40,520 beds. But under President Donald Trump, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, has exceeded that number.

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