On any given day, at least 34,000 people are detained in immigrant detention centers in the U.S. to meet an arbitrary lock-up quota dictated by Congress. Stopping the quota would be a giant step forward in ending our reliance on detention. Grassroots Leadership researches and exposes the role of for-profit prisons and their lobbyists in enacting the quota contributes to the growing national movement to stop immigrant detention.
Detention and the #EndTheQuota Campaign
Private prison companies are spending millions of dollars to lobby the U.S. government for harsher immigration laws that, in turn, spike corporate profits by driving up incarceration levels, a new report from the national social justice organization Grassroots Leadership reveals.
Entitled Payoff: How Congress Ensures Private Prison Profit with an Immigrant Detention Quota, the report's release on Wednesday coincided with a renewed hunger strike at a privately-run immigrant detention center in southern Texas, where asylum-seeking mothers incarcerated with their children report inhumane conditions, including sexual assaults by prison guards and staff.
Report coauthor Bethany Carson declared in a press statement, "The immigrant detention quota is taxpayer-financed insurance for private prison corporations that the government will maintain their bottom line at all costs. Now, we are seeing those same corporations invest millions in the Congressional committee that created that insurance policy for them."
Carson added, "Congress’s vast immigrant detention system is tearing apart families and communities, and creating an enormous profit from human misery." Read more about 'Profiting From Misery': Private Prison Corporations Driving Harsh Immigration Policies
No detention center has bigger plans for illegal immigrants than the South Texas Family Center in Dilley. The center is run by the for-profit Corrections Corporation of America and is under expansion. By May 2015, the facility will be able to hold 2,400 people. "If this expansion proceeds, Dilley will be the largest immigrant detention center in the U.S.," says a new report about the troubling role that private prison companies play in U.S. immigration policy. The report was published by Grassroots Leadership, an advocacy group that is critical of the industry.
Using government and financial records and news articles, the Grassroots report details how two companies -- Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group -- have benefited from locking up illegal immigrants, and how the South Texas border surge in arrests has been especially profitable to the CCA and GEO Group. Texas has 7,602 private beds for the immigrant detainees, Grassroots Leadership found, a figure that represents 39 percent of all private prison beds in the whole country.
But the Grassroots report raises a bigger argument, that it's probably not a good idea to let our immigration policies be influenced by a few companies with something to gain. Read more about Arresting Illegal Immigrants in Texas Is Making Private Prisons Companies Rich
Illegal border crossings are in decline, but Homeland Security officers nonetheless have a detention-bed quota they must meet. Private prison companies are reaping the benefits, and taxpayers are being shortchanged.
Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit social justice group, released a report Wednesday highlighting the plight of some detainees and the lobbying efforts of CCA and GEO Group, particularly with the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security. CCA has spent nearly $10 million lobbying the panel since 2008. Both companies deny trying to influence immigration policy. Read more about Editorial: Bed quotas for immigration detainees a costly flub
Private prison corporations spent $11 million over six years to lobby Congress to keep immigrants in detention centers, a new report released Wednesday found. The Grassroots Leadership report, Payoff: How Congress Ensures Private Prison Profit with an Immigrant Detention Quota, found that lobbying efforts of the two largest private prison corporations have made them the main beneficiaries of aggressive immigration detention policies. For-profit family detention centers have come under scrutiny in recent times as migrant women renewed a hunger strike this week in Texas, demanding that they be released on bond with their children. Read more about Millions Spent Lobbying By Private Prison Corporations To Keep A Quota Of Arrested Immigrants, Report Says
Immigration Policy Researcher and Organizer at Grassroots Leadership Bethany Carson co-authored a report released Wednesday that documented “the rise of for-profit detention of immigrants and increased lobbying to the DHS Appropriations Subcommittee in Congress.”
The report talks about “bed quotas,” the required minimum number of immigrants that must be detained at any given time, and how they increase profits for the private prison corporations.
According to the report, two corporations own eight of the nine largest privately owned immigration detention centers. Together, the two corporations, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group made almost $470 million in revenue in 2014 from ICE detention.
We must put an end to these “bed quotas.” The only purpose they serve it so make profits for privately owned prison corporations.
These corporations are profiting off of suffering, and they are using their enormous returns to poison our politics. Read more about Private Prison Corporations are Making Record Profits off Detaining Immigrants
The private prison industry’s growing role in immigrant detention is due in part to Congress' requiring the federal government to maintain some 34,000 detention beds, according to a report released Wednesday.
The report, drafted by Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit based in Austin, Texas, calls on Congress to eliminate the immigrant detention quota from its 2016 appropriations request.
Bethany Carson, a co-author of the study who spoke on the call, said the detention bed quota is “inhumane” and “unnecessary.” The Grassroots report urges policymakers to reduce the number of required detention beds through “community-based” alternatives to detention. The report does not describe those alternatives in detail, but Grassroots has in the past endorsed programs in which immigration authorities partner with non-governmental organizations to ensure that released migrants comply with court proceedings and find access to community services.
“The only beneficiaries from the detention quota are for-profit corporations that benefit from human pain,” Carson told reporters Read more about Bed Quota Fuels 'Inhumane' And 'Unnecessary' Immigrant Detention: Report
Read more about Key takeaways from new report on private prison payoff from the immigrant detention quota
AUSTIN, TEXAS — A new report released today by Grassroots Leadership, a national social justice organization that works to end for-profit incarceration, examines the increasing seizure of the immigrant detention industry by for-profit prison corporations and their extensive lobbying of Congress to protect their bottom line. Since the creation of the immigrant detention bed quota in 2009, the immigrant detention industry has become 13 percent more privatized. Read more about New Report: Rise in For-Profit Detention Corresponds with Millions in Lobbying by Private Prisons
"Individual women have shared their experiences at Karnes in letters posted to the website of the End Family Detention advocacy network. One woman who has been held there since the facility was converted into a family detention center last August wrote that her daughter wasn't eating and was losing weight. She was also worried about unsuitable drinking water at the center, which is located in an area where thousands of oil and gas wells have been drilled, but didn't have enough money to buy water from the store. Colorlines reported that the women are paid $3 a day to work at the facility -- the price of a single bottle of water.
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokespeople have denied being aware of a hunger strike at the center. However, advocates in contact with the detainees reported that the women experienced retaliation from guards and ICE officials in response to the protest. Three women and their children were even locked in an unlit room in the medical infirmary on the first day of the strike. Mothers were also threatened with separation from their children and with deportations. Such threats are routinely made in the facility in response to issues like children's misbehavior but increased during the strike, according to Cristina Parker withGrassroots Leadership, a nonprofit that advocates for the abolition of private prisons." Read more about Immigrant mothers held in private detention facility in Texas threaten to renew hunger strike