Immigrant Detention System Could Be in Line for an Overhaul

September 27, 2016
The Wall Street Journal

A recent Homeland Security Department decision to consider ending the widespread outsourcing of immigrant detention could mean overhauling a $2 billion-a-year system built around private prison contractors that house the majority of immigrant detainees.

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Critics of ICE question why there are so many people in custody when illegal immigration has slowed significantly. “The growth in the private-prison industry has been driven by more enforcement that fills beds, even at a time of relatively low immigration levels,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an organization that studies for-profit incarceration and favors ending it.

The immigrant-bed quota, which Congress first mandated in 2009, benefits the private-prison industry and promotes detention, Mr. Libal and others say.