The for-profit private prison industry is breaking new ground, and not just in Dilley, Texas where the largest family immigrant detention center is currently being built. Aside from the tortured history of family detention centers in Texas (see list below), what makes this plan ground-breaking in the worst kind of way, is the fact that it is being contracted by a prison town over 900 miles away.
That’s right. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) will run this new facility, but the money will first be funneled through the City of Eloy, Arizona (which will get a hefty cut, of course). This is unprecedented, shady, and mind-boggling, but also possibly completely legal thanks to an Intergovernmental Services Agreement which allows for no-bid contracts.
John Burnett, who covered the story for NPR, quotes an unnamed ICE source as saying it is “a creative response to a difficult situation.” Certainly—just like off-shore bank accounts are a creative response to taxes. It turns out that Eloy is literally only acting as the financial go-between for the money from ICE to CCA. It claims no responsibility for what happens in the facility. This is how Burnett described it in his piece for NPR,
Here’s how it will work with the new South Texas facility: ICE sends Eloy $290 million for the first year’s expenses. The city passes through that payment to CCA to run the facility. And CCA pays Eloy $438,000 a year to essentially act as its accountant — nothing more.