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
AUSTIN, Texas - The federal Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that it will review its policy of detaining undocumented immigrants in private, for-profit facilities. The announcement by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson comes on the heels of a decision by the Department of Justice to phase out private companies used to operate federal prisons.
Christina Parker, the immigration programs director with Grassroots Leadership, said her group has documented a litany of problems and abuse at the for-profit immigration facilities located in Texas and elsewhere.
"They say that they're going to conduct a review looking at all aspects of contracting in these facilities, how they've operated and what happened there, the kind of abuses and neglect that we see in those facilities," she said. "Any honest review looking at that would have to result in them terminating their contracts just like the DOJ did." Read more about DHS to Review Use of For-Profit Detention for Immigrants
Private prison contractors may lose the ability to run immigrant detention centers as for-profit businesses.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is ordering a review of the agency’s policy of using private contractors to run immigrant detention centers, according to a statement issued Monday.
ICE relies on private companies to handle most of its detention operations. Nearly two-thirds of immigrant detention beds are privatized, according to report last year by Austin-based advocacy group Grassroots Leadership. By comparison, 12 percent of Bureau of Prisons facilities are run as businesses.
“Based on the stories that have come out of for-profit detention centers for years, including hunger strikes and protests by detained migrants, there is every reason to believe that ICE-contracted private prisons have many of the same problems that the DOJ uncovered this month,” Grassroots Leadership Director Bob Libal wrote in an email. Read more about Obama Administration Considers Ending For-Profit Immigrant Detention
In Arizona, Republican supporters of for-profit prisons ended the cost-benefit discussion about for-profit state prisons in 2012 by repealing a requirement to compare private prisons with those run by the state.
In reality, cost-benefit discussions are a distraction. The bedrock goal of a private prison is to make money. That’s the point.
Detainees are dollar signs. That’s the problem.
“There’s something morally wrong with making a profit from locking up human beings,” Libal said.
Tax dollars built the private prison industry. The withdrawal of tax dollars can dismantle it. Read more about Valdez: Private prisons are an immoral, publicly funded mistake
El traslado de más de medio centenar de inmigrantes indocumentadas recluidas en un centro de detención del centro de Texas a otro en Laredo está siendo severamente cuestionado por grupos pro inmigrantes de Austin.
Los activistas dicen que la medida, llevada a cabo el 27 de junio, afecta negativamente a las internas, la mayoría inmigrantes centroamericanas que buscan asilo político o que están apelando sus órdenes de deportación, ya que las aleja de sus familias y de un adecuado asesoramiento legal, lo cual puede derivar en que pierdan sus casos en las cortes, dijo Bethany Carson, investigadora de política migratoria de la organización Grassroots Leadership.
“Esto interrumpió muchos de los casos de asilo de las mujeres”, dijo Carson, quien agregó que muchas de ellas ya habían pasado una entrevista de miedo creíble, la cual es un primer paso muy importante para lograr obtener el asilo político en el país, un proceso que ha sido puesto en peligro por la acción que ordenó el Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas de los Estados Unidos (ICE).
“ICE debería estar liberándolas en lugar de estarlas transfiriendo a distintos centros de detención”, indicó Carson. Read more about Activistas denuncian nocivo traslado de inmigrantes detenidas en Texas
(AUSTIN, Texas) — The immigrant-bashing response from private prison executives to a damning government review of their facilities shows why prison companies shouldn’t be in the business of detaining immigrants. Read more about Shaken by damning reports and fired by DOJ, prison bosses blame Mexican prisoners as “prone to violence”
Plans by the Department of Justice to begin phasing out contracts with private prisons is fueling calls from immigrant advocates to also end the use of private immigration detention centers.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has in recent years increasingly contracted with private for-profit companies to run a vast network of detention centers to hold immigrants, including the 1,550-bed Eloy Detention Center in Pinal County about 60 miles south of Phoenix.
Critics contend the use of for-profit companies to run immigration detention centers has fueled a trend to hold more people rather than use less expensive alternatives to detention.
"These companies have financial interest in making sure that these detention facilities are full," said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an advocacy group based in Austin, Texas, that opposes private prisons. Read more about Could for-profit immigrant detention centers, including in Arizona, be next on feds' hit list?
News that the federal government is rolling back its dealings with private prisons was a big enough deal on Thursday that it sent Corrections Corp stock plummeting within 60 seconds.
It's no small thing: the government's decision to decline or let expire contracts with the 13 private prisons across the country will affect about 40,000 inmates held inside, according to a 2014 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
But this move only affects a fraction of inmates locked up by the private sector: the same report shows over 91,000 are housed in state prisons, which will be untouched by the DOJ's decision. The BJS report does not include private county prisons.
Nor will the decision touch the private detention operations of the Immigration and and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is housed under the Department of Homeland Security, a bigger client to the private prison industry than the DOJ. ICE is under a mandate to hold 34,000 detainees at a time, and corporations oversee 62 percent of ICE's detention beds.
A damning report by the Inspector General a week ago found private inmates get worse treatment, fewer resources, and shabbier conditions than their counterparts in publicly-run prisons.
"I would still say this is an historic day and may mark a turning point," said Bob Libal, executive director at Grassroots Leadership, a civil rights group that studies and organizes to end private prisons.
"I hope it's one of many big days to come," he added. Read more about The federal shutdown of private prisons only affects a fraction of inmates
Bob Libal, Grassroots Leadership executive director, discusses the U.S. government halting a decade-long experiment to hire private companies to help manage the soaring prison population. He speaks with Bloomberg's Erik Schatzker and Joe Weisenthal on "Bloomberg Markets." Read more about Prison REITs Sink After U.S. Ends Privately-Run Jails