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Inside America's $2bn immigrant detention industry

2 April 2014 Last updated at 00:33 BST

Under President Barack Obama, the US has deported almost two million undocumented immigrants, more than any of his predecessors.

Before being kicked out of the US, most of these people will spend time locked up in a detention centre. Some have criminal convictions, but the majority are detained on immigration charges.

A little-known federal law enacted in 2006 ensures that a minimum of 34,000 undocumented immigrants must be held on every single day. Private companies run most of the centres.

Critics claim the congressional mandate forces law enforcement agencies to arrest and detain immigrants to meet an arbitrary bed number rather than act on the merits of each individual case.

Facing a backlash from Hispanic leaders angry at the impact deportations are having on families and communities, the White House has promised a "more humane" approach. Now, the administration is pushing to lower the minimum number of daily detainees.

But backers of the law say the number detained each day is a tiny proportion of the estimated 12 million immigrants currently living in the US without official papers. And the bed mandate serves as a check on the administration's enforcement efforts.

The BBC's Franz Strasser went to Georgia to investigate America's $2bn (£1.2bn) detention and deportation industry.

Altered States is a series of video features published every Wednesday on the BBC News website which examine how shifting demographics and economic conditions affect America on a local level.

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