Check out the above video from our friends at Community Initiatives Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVC) that explains the ICE bed mandate in detail.
Business is booming for private prisons that house immigrants thanks to the little-known “bed quota.”
Since 2006 Congress has directed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to fill this detention quota for immigrants in custody. The current quota is a staggering 34,000 immigrants a day. The federal government is spending more than $2 billion dollars a year on detention, meaning that private prison companies stand to win big contracts locking immigrants up.
The bed mandate means the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is needlessly detaining more immigrants for longer periods of time. In order to meet this quota, DHS must also reach deeper into the court system to find more people to lock up. These new detainees now include legal U.S. residents and undocumented immigrants picked up on minor traffic violations.
The bed mandate has provided big profits for the Corrections Corporation of America and the Geo Group, private prison companies that together detain over 60% of ICE detainees. Being government jailers has meant big profits for CCA and Geo, which have both doubled in value since 2010.
These impressive profit margins should come as no surprise to the corporations holding ICE detention contracts, including CCA and Geo. Collectively, private prisons companies shelled out at least $45 million in the past decade on campaign donations and lobbyists to ensure their access to more prisoners and more taxpayer dollars.
The track record for these prison companies is often disturbing. CCA was faulted over assaults at an Ohio facility and a riot that left 20 inmates and 1 guard dead in Mississippi. Moreover, there is scant evidence that these companies save taxpayers any money and some indication that they actually cost more.
The billions of taxpayer dollars at stake over the bed mandate has been cited as a major obstacle to meaningful immigration reform that reduces the number of immigrants detained and deported.