President Obama expanded use of family detention camps a couple of years ago to include lockups for thousands of Central American women and children seeking asylum at the Southern border. That’s been a gold mine for the corporate prison industry. Private prison giant CoreCivic–formerly known as the Corrections Corporation of America–has put up record profits running a 2,400-bed family jail in the tiny city of Dilley. But some in Dilley worry hosting the hub of a controversial family detention policy hasn’t paid off for locals. … “Well, in general, the whole town is dead,” says Ortiz. “There’s nothing here. This used to be a very big agriculture town. They called it the watermelon capital; you can see the watermelon there.” Ortiz points to the hard-to-miss statue of a half-eaten watermelon—wrapped in Christmas lights. Today, Dilley is known for other things. “Mainly oil and incarceration, says Jose Asuncion, a third-generation Dilley resident. By incarceration, he means the state prison and the so-called family detention center packed with immigrant women and children. Between the two of them: “That’s 3,700 potential incarcerated people,” says Asuncion. “That’s equivalent to the town’s population. I think that’s wrong.” … The Dilley City Council approved its agreement with the private prison company and the man-camp owner in October 2014. CoreCivic agreed to prioritize hiring Dilley residents to fill 600 jobs, but Asuncion hasn’t seen that. … The council’s agenda promised the project would provide $6.9 million in direct economic benefit to Dilley, but it’s unclear that’s come through. The agreement–and appraisal district data–show the city should have brought in less than $2 million in revenue sharing from CoreCivic and property taxes from the center since then. Dilley has also taken out millions in bonds called certificates of obligation—without voter approval—for city projects including a water and sewer line upgrade for the detention center. … In the new contract, CoreCivic agreed to cut costs at Dilley by 40 percent, mostly through reductions in staff. A woman who works for a CoreCivic subcontractor says her pay was cut by more than 30 percent. “Everybody was dropped to $16-something-an-hour,” she says. “Everybody quit in our company. I’m serious. Everybody quit. That’s when I called them and said, ‘I can’t afford my rent here at 16 something.” …
Private prison stocks are spiking
Source: Robert Ferris, CNBC, October 18, 2016
Corrections Corporation of America shares extended their gains Tuesday on word that a Texas facility would extend their contract. Shares spiked Monday after the company reported it is extending and amending a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the 2,400-bed South Texas Family Center in Dilley, Texas. Corrections Corp. shares closed at $14.55 on Tuesday, up 20 cents, or about 1.4 percent. The contract will extend through 2021, thought ICE will pay a lower monthly fixed rate to the company. The agreement is subject to termination upon 60-day notice. … At the end of September, both stocks posted their worst quarter in roughly 16 years.
ICE Renews Private Prison Contractor To Run Largest Family Detention Center
Source: Roque Planas, Huffington Post, October 18, 2016
Immigration and Customs Enforcement revised and extended a contract on Monday for a private company to keep running the country’s largest family detention center as a for-profit business for another five years. ICE renewed the contract with Corrections Corporation of America, despite a recent surge of criticism against the government’s reliance on private prison contractors. The South Texas Family Residential Center, which the Obama administration hastily constructed at the the tail end of 2014 to detain a sudden influx of Central American mothers and children, has also faced its own controversies, with lawsuits questioning the legality of the White House’s family detention policy. … Under CCA’s extended contract, the company will receive less money than before to run the Southern Texas Family Residential Center, according to a news release posted to the CCA website. The contract originally awarded to CCA to run the Dilley detention center was worth nearly $1 billion over four years and the company received the money regardless of how many people were locked up there. …
Private Prisons Are Cashing In on Refugees’ Desperation
Source: Antony Lowenstein, New York Times, February 25, 2016
The Dilley center holds people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a government agency, but it is run by the Corrections Corporation of America, America’s largest private prison and detention company. It is one part of a worrisome global trend of warehousing immigrants and asylum seekers at remote sites maintained by for-profit corporations. The United Nations estimates that one in every 122 people on the planet is displaced. This is a crisis that requires a humanitarian solution; unfortunately, some people view it as a business opportunity. … It has become a multimillion-dollar industry. The company Hero Norway runs 90 refugee centers in Norway and 10 in Sweden, charging governments $31 to $75 per refugee per night. Australia’s government has contracted the company Broadspectrum to manage two detention camps in Nauru and Papua New Guinea for asylum seekers. In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron’s government awarded the security firm Serco a seven-year contract in 2014 worth over $100 million for running the Yarl’s Wood immigrant detention center. … In its 2014 annual report, the Corrections Corporation of America worried that changes to American immigration policy could cut into the company’s bottom line.
Family Detention Centers Apply for Child Care Licenses
Source: Seth Robbins, Associated Press, October 16, 2015
A Texas agency will inspect two of the nation’s largest immigrant family detention centers to determine whether to issue them residential child care licenses as part of an effort to keep the facilities open amid a legal challenge. … The detention centers are overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and run by private prison companies, which are applying for the licenses. According to an application filed by Corrections Corporation of America, the 2,000-bed facility in Dilley would provide child care services that can include handling children at risk to themselves or others and restraining children physically. The application filed by The GEO Group, the contractor at the 500-bed facility in Karnes City, asked only for child care services. … Filings about the Dilley facility mention untreated or unrecognized ailments that resulted in children being hospitalized, lack of medicines, erroneous vaccine dosages and long waits. Corrections Corporation of America would not comment on the allegations or the licensing process, deferring to the Homeland Security statement.
Federal judge orders Obama administration to release detained mothers and children
Source: Franco Ordonez, Miami Herald, August 22, 2015
A federal judge ruled late Friday night that the Obama administration has just over two months to begin releasing hundreds of migrant mothers and children who have been locked up in government family detention centers as they await their asylum hearings. In a 15-page ruling that quoted Mahatma Gandhi, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Central California delivered a scolding rebuke of the government’s expanded use of family detention centers. But she also granted the government one of its key requests for additional time – as much as 20 days – to continue to hold mothers and children under extenuating circumstances like last year’s surge of nearly 70,000 Central American families into the United States. … Gee rejected a last minute plea by the administration to reconsider her July ruling that the government acted in violation of a 1997 settlement regarding child migrants. She called the government’s arguments improper and speculative. … Homeland Security officials could not be immediately reached for comment, but they are expected to appeal the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. But they’re also likely relieved. Gee did not issue a blanket order prohibiting the detention of all families under any circumstances beyond five days as they had feared.
Dems press White House to end family detention centers
Source: Mike Lillis, The Hill, July 31, 2015
House Democrats are escalating their calls for the Obama administration to shutter the family detention centers housing thousands of illegal immigrant women and children. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, 178 Democrats contend the centers — which were established last summer, largely to accommodate the flood of immigrants arriving at the southern border – are illegal and impose prison-like conditions that risk physical and mental harm to detainees. …