Call to end the quota, reduce detentions.
By Raif Karerat
WASHINGTON, DC: Grassroots Leadership released a report on Wednesday that detailed lobbying on immigration issues by private prison corporations alongside a rise in for-profit detention since the creation of a controversial “bed quota” in 2009.
During the press call, report co-author Bethany Carson said private prison corporations have seized a greater share of the immigration detention system since the onset of the immigrant detention quota.
Two private prison corporations, GEO Group and CCA, dominate the immigrant detention industry and are making record profits at the expense of communities and taxpayers. Together, they earned almost $478 million in revenue in 2014 from ICE detention.
Since just before the creation of the bed quota, the private prison industry has reinvested more than $11 million of their profit in lobbying Congress in quarters when they lobbied on immigration issues, much of which was spent on the DHS Appropriations Committee which controls the quota.
Carson attested the only way to stop this cycle is to end the quota and dramatically reduce the use of detention: Until then for-profit prison companies will continue to reap millions and spend those profits lobbying Congress to protect their bottom line.
Following Carson, Marichuy Leal, a transgender woman recently released from Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, spoke on why detention isn’t safe for LGBTQ immigrants. She spoke of being tortured and the lack of protection afforded to immigrants, let alone those who identify as LGBTQ.
“There is no security for us, for transgenders or [the] LGBTQ community,” she said.
Rev. Kelly Allen, a Presbyterian minister from San Antonio, also weighed in: “I find this practice of family detention for profit — both of these things together — an embarrassment as a religious leader in my community. “
Rep. Adam Smith of Washington rounded out the press call by emphasizing that his peers in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives should be calling for the stringent elimination of the quota from the 2016 appropriations request.
“It’s a terrible situation … the entire notion of having private detention facilities is just absurd,” he stated. Privatizing the prison system was a huge mistake,” he continued, going on to describe it as the wrong sector to be driven by profit.
The report itself recommended Congress should increase oversight within the contracting system and launch a system-wide review of the contracted prisons and their related intergovernmental service agreements.
It also called for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to end contracts at facilities with a record of abuse and penalize contractors found to have multiple incidents of abuse or mismanagement in their facilities.