ICE Detains And Deports Undocumented Immigrants From Arizona (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
ICE Detains And Deports Undocumented Immigrants From Arizona. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Detention Centers’ booming industry

An investigation by CQ Roll Call brought to light the strange negotiations between private detention companies and government officials.


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If you ever wondered if the Trump Administration's obsession with detaining immigrants was just a matter of xenophobia - or "national security" - CQ Roll Call can give you the answer.

After reviewing dozens of Immigration Centers of America documents - one of the many private detention companies accredited by the American Correctional Association (ACA) - the Roll Call team was able to observe “the deals between private detention companies and government officials."

According to the report, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) pays around $120 per day for each person detained at the ICA center, and an extra $28 per person "when the total number of detainees exceeds 500.”

The more detainees the government can provide, the more extra $28 the detention centers will have, especially if obstacles such as the Flores Agreement are removed.

It is a partnership between the private and public sectors of the government system that includes federal agencies, local governments, and private contractors, all moving to the beat of the government's anti-immigrant agenda.

"Private detention centers house about 73 percent of ICE detainees on a given day," the report explains. "Public facilities, usually local prisons, have a smaller part of a population largely detained for administrative, non-punitive reasons."

But this is nothing new.

As Emily Kassie recounts in her article for The Guardian, "The United States’ reliance on immigrant detention is not a new phenomenon, nor did it emerge with Donald Trump (though its growth under his administration is staggering).”

Kassie recalls the country's last four decades of history where "a series of emergency stopgaps and bipartisan deals has created a new multibillion-dollar industry built on the incarceration of immigrants."

Research shows that the number of people detained by immigration agencies — both at the time of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and now with ICE — "has grown more than twentyfold."

Especially after the implementation of the zero-tolerance policy by the government of Donald Trump, which resulted in the separation of thousands of families, the indefinite detention of minors, and the increase in reports of abuse in detention facilities.

Worth Rises, a nonprofit defense organization, has documented step by step the ways in which this mega-industry has taken off with the Trump Administration, detailing, in particular, the system of retribution through political lobbying.

Two of ICE's largest contractors, for example, are The GEO Group and CoreCivic, two for-profit companies who owe 40% of their revenue to federal contracts.

As Worth Rises explains, "these companies invested heavily in the outspoken federal, state, and local candidates interested in advancing harsh immigration policies like ‘zero tolerance’ during the 2016 election cycle.”

In the worst-case scenario, and if politicians don’t do well within the Capitol, they can always retire and join the boards of detention centers, as the president’s former president's chief of staff, John Kelly, did.


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