Mrs. Clinton's statement:

“I also think that we have to reform our detention system. … I’m not sure a lot of Americans know that a lot of the detention facilities for immigrants are run by private companies and that they have a built-in incentive to fill them up, that there is actually a legal requirement that so many beds be filled. So people go out and round up people in order to get paid on a per-bed basis.”

The Washington Post's analysis:

"Clinton’s description of the bed mandate is outdated and inaccurate.

DHS did, indeed, interpret the mandate as a requirement to fill up detention facilities. After the mandate was added into the budget, the average daily detainee population increased and correlated with number of beds funded. However, the House Appropriations Committee confirmed to The Fact Checker that the law does not require every bed to be filled. Johnson and Saldana said the same to Congress, and the agency appears to be moving away from its original interpretation. The fiscal 2015 daily detainee number hovers at 78 percent of the 34,000 bed quota, so it is clear that not all the beds were used.

Private facilities play a big role in immigrant detention, and there are some concerns over contractual agreements and minimum population guarantees. The GAO also has pointed out several shortfalls in DHS oversight of the facilities. But her statement that people are rounding up detainees to get paid on a per-bed basis is a stretch."

So the bottom line is that the Obama administration can simply let those 34,000 beds go empty, but it chooses not to. The political spin is that the Obama administration’s hands are tied by Congress, and that is why so many immigrants are being detained, which is simply not reflective of a plain unambiguous reading of the law.

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