Detention and the #ShutDownHutto Campaign

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.

 

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Apr 20, 2015
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The Texas Observer

ICE Director to U.S. Rep. Culberson: We Can’t Just Put People in Detention for ‘the Heck of it’

In Congress, Geo Group, Corrections Corporation of America and other private prison companies spend millions on lobbying. Much of that lobbying is focused on powerful members of the appropriations committee like Culberson, who received campaign contributions from CCA, which runs detention facilities including Dilley’s controversial South Texas Residential Center, which detains women and children.

A new study by the nonprofit Grassroots Leadership finds that the private prison industry has increased its share of immigrant detention beds by 13 percent since the 2009 quota was passed. For-profit corporations now operate sixty-two percent of ICE immigration detention beds.

At one point during the U.S. House Appropriations Committee hearing last week, Saldaña tries to explain to the tea-partier Culberson that she can’t put people in detention “just for the heck of it.” Read more about ICE Director to U.S. Rep. Culberson: We Can’t Just Put People in Detention for ‘the Heck of it’

Apr 19, 2015
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RawStory

Asylum-seeking mothers launch hunger strike over inhumane conditions at Texas detention center

Detained asylum-seeking mothers at a for-profit detention center in Texas have gone on a hunger strike seeking their release, Freedom Speech Radio News reports.

The women, many of whom fled their countries in Central America  out of fear of violence or persecution, have all passed the “credible fear test” and qualify as asylum seekers. Despite that, they are still held with their children — some as young as 2 years old — in the Karnes Residential Center, a prison-like facility in South Texas, waiting for their cases to be processed.

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According to a new report from the Grassroots Leadership, private for-profit prison corporations spent $11 million over six years to lobby Congress to keep a mandatory immigrant detention quota.

Today, 9 out of the 10 largest immigrant detention centers are private, with 8 owned by only two corporations, the GED Group and CCA. Since the end of 2007, the GEO Group has increased their profits by 244% and CCA by 46%. Read more about Asylum-seeking mothers launch hunger strike over inhumane conditions at Texas detention center

Apr 19, 2015
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International Business Times

Report: Private Prison Lobbyists Spend Millions To Keep Immigrants Locked Up

A report released last week by Grassroots Leadership, a Texas non-profit, details how private prison companies have spent five years lobbying the government, not only to maintain the quota, but to enact conservative immigration reform that would continue to ensure a steady flow of inmates into its detention centers.

“Payoff: How Congress Ensures Private Prison Profit with an Immigrant Detention,” says 62 percent of all ICE detention beds now are operated by for-profit prison companies. In fact, nine out of the 10 largest immigrant detention camps are private, with eight owned by only two corporations -- Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group. Those two corporations reaped about $500 million in 2014 alone.

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“The immigrant detention quota continues to be a prime example of how money and political gain can drive policy decisions," the report notes. "Those harmed by the immigrant detention quota have far less power and money: immigrants, their families, and the average American taxpayer." Read more about Report: Private Prison Lobbyists Spend Millions To Keep Immigrants Locked Up

Apr 16, 2015
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Common Dreams

'Profiting From Misery': Private Prison Corporations Driving Harsh Immigration Policies

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.

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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

Apr 16, 2015
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The Dallas Observer

Arresting Illegal Immigrants in Texas Is Making Private Prisons Companies Rich

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.

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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

Apr 16, 2015
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The Spokesman Review

Editorial: Bed quotas for immigration detainees a costly flub

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.

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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

Apr 16, 2015
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ThinkProgress

Millions Spent Lobbying By Private Prison Corporations To Keep A Quota Of Arrested Immigrants, Report Says

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

Apr 16, 2015
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Blue Nation Review

Private Prison Corporations are Making Record Profits off Detaining Immigrants

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.

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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

Apr 15, 2015
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Huffington Post

Bed Quota Fuels 'Inhumane' And 'Unnecessary' Immigrant Detention: Report

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.

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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

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