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ICE detained more than 300,000 aliens last year and is engaged in what the agency has described as a “broad detention-reform effort.” That effort includes the creation of a civil detention system that reduces transfers, maximizes access to counsel, visitation and recreation, improves conditions of confinement, and ensures quality medical, mental and dental health care.

Recognizing that the “purpose of immigration detention is not punitive and the importance of providing our detainees with quality care,” ICE has said it has taken “concrete steps to improve the immigration-detention system and is engaged in a serious and sustained effort that will result in additional reforms and actions in the near future.”

“Finite resources require ICE to prioritize our enforcement efforts to best protect the security of our communities and the integrity of the immigration system,” ICE said in a statement.

In January, ICE reduced the number of its detention facilities from 341 to 270 and ended outside contracts at 10 other sites.

In March, Mr. Morton told the Senate Appropriations Committee that he intended to “change the jail-oriented approach of our current detention system, and am in the process of redesigning the system so it meets our needs as an agency that detains people for civil, not penal, purposes.”