The sticking point : Democrats argue that by allowing the number of detention beds from 40,520 to 52,000, as the administration wants, the agency will have the capacity to pursue a larger swath of undocumented immigrants, including those without criminal records. They want to go down to 35,520 for the remainder of fiscal year 2019. But Republicans view the number of detention beds as central to limiting the ability of detached undocumented immigrants to be released into the US as they await hearings.
President Donald Trump is expected to hold a meeting in the Oval Office on Monday afternoon to discuss wall funding as well as a response to Democrats who are demanding a limit on the detention of illegal immigrants. Republican lawmakers are not expected to attend the meeting. Earlier today, Trump aide Stephen Miller led a briefing call with administration insiders denouncing the Democrats' demands, according to a source close to the White House.
ICE, the Department of Homeland Security's enforcement arm, is tasked with, among other things, detaining and deporting undocumented immigrant residing in the United States. To do so, the agency contracts with county jails and private companies, which operate the facilities where many of the beds are.
Beds are just that ̵
In a call with reporters Monday, acting ICE Deputy Director Matt Albence cast any cap as a threat to security. "It will be extremely damaging to the public safety of this country," Albence said. "If we are forced to live within a cap based on interior arrests, we will immediately be forced to release criminal aliens that are currently sitting in our custody."
48,000 in custody
Detention facilities are key to ICE's operations: As of January 1, more than 48,000 individuals were in ICE custody, surpassing the 40,520 beds for which it received funding. The influx of individuals in ICE custody is a line with Trump's agenda to prioritize enforcement in the interior of the country, not just at the border.
According to the agency, the majority of those arrested by ICE had criminal convictions (many of which are traffic offenses), followed by pending criminal charges, or previously issued final orders of removal.
Even with more detention beds, the administration would be limited in how long it can detain people.
Democrats are seeking the number of detention beds at 35,520 for the remainder of fiscal year 2019 and cap the number that can be used to detain individuals who were already in the US at 16,500 in an attempt to return to the level of interior detentions at the end of the Obama administration.
"A cap on ICE detention beds will force the Trump administration to prioritize deportation for criminals and people who pose real security threats, not law-abiding immigrants who are contributing to our country," said Democratic Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, the chair of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee and a member of the House-Senate Conference Committee on Homeland Security
The National Sheriffs' Association and the Major County Sheriffs of America denounced the cape in a letter to House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-New York, and the committee's top Republican, Kay Granger of Texas. Local law enforcement has a interest in ICE's detention capacity, given that the agency works with county jails across the country to detained immigrants.
"Any legislation that reduces ICE's detention capacity would hinder its ability to perform its national security and public safety missions, but also impact local law enforcement's ability to protect the communities they serve," the letter states. "In order to be capitally attended by Congress, ICE would be compiled to release thousands of aliens from custody."
House Democrats might also move forward with a stopgap funding bill of some sort of as a backstop if talks stall.
Trump has a campaign rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday night
CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Sarah Mucha and Phil Mattingly contributed to this report.