1,000-Bed Private Detention Facility Proposed for South Texas

On October 13, the Austin American-Statesman reported that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is soliciting proposals for a new privately run detention center to operate in South Texas, the eighth of its kind along Interstate-35. The proposal calls for a location between San Antonio and Laredo to house 1,000 adult male and female detainees.

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“This would be yet another for-profit detention center in South Texas along the I-35 corridor, which has become detention alley,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership.

The American-Statesman reported that the Trump Administration has promised expansion of the detention system, supporting the profit margins of GEO Group and CoreCivic (formerly known as the Corrections Corporation of America or CCA). The expansion of detention forecasts a continued focus on interior enforcement and arrests, given that border crossings have declined since President Trump’s election. ICE has been criticized for actions of interior enforcement such as the raids in Austin in February “because more than half of the 53 immigrants arrested had no criminal history,” reported the American-Statesman.

“What Trump promised was the very high deportation numbers, and the way you get that is through the detention and deportation of asylum seekers” at the border, Libal said, “but if that number remains constant or goes down, you have to find new populations to deport” likely through ICE raids.

County Judge Joel Rodriguez said La Salle County would not participate in housing a detention facility due to the risks involved. The La Salle County sheriff’s office now operates a detention center in Encinal, Texas, after the private company Emerald Corrections abandoned the facility to the county in 2014.

As immigration cases pile up in a backlog of trials, deportations have slowed and detention centers remain in demand. “The combination of more arrests and fewer deportations could mean an increase in the populations of detention centers,” the article reported.