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Report Exposes For-Profit Immigration Detention Quotas

PHOTO: A new report exposes the impact of local lockup quotas at immigrant detention facilities under the Obama Administration. Photo credit: Austin Indymedia.
PHOTO: A new report exposes the impact of local lockup quotas at immigrant detention facilities under the Obama Administration. Photo credit: Austin Indymedia.
June 16, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas – A new report released by Detention Watch Network and the Center for Constitutional Rights exposes local lockup quotas in for-profit immigrant detention facilities covering half of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) field offices.

Carol Wu with Detention Watch Network says guaranteed minimum contracts encourage the lockup of hundreds of people at any given time, and takes a high toll on communities and families.

"By having these guaranteed minimums and these local lockup quotas, we're encouraging incarceration," she says. "We're talking about immigration detention in the United States becoming a financial market. These people's lives are being treated as profit."

Wu adds that quotas also impact how taxpayers foot the bill. According to the report, 62 percent of the nation's detention beds are operated by private prison companies, and a large portion of the $2 billion annual budget for detention operations ultimately goes to for-profit contractors.

The report also suggests that requiring ICE to fill a certain number of detention beds on a daily basis at specific facilities can "impact enforcement strategies," or rather, where stakeouts and raids are conducted. Wu says guaranteed minimum contracts ultimately affect policy.

"The U.S. government is actually allowing private businesses a hand in setting policy on immigration enforcement and detention, while at the same time padding their bottom line," says Wu.

According to Wu, no other law enforcement agency is subject to a national quota system for incarceration.

The report found the guaranteed daily minimum at San Antonio's ICE field office is the nation's highest at 2,000 beds. The Houston Processing Center also was featured in the report, with guaranteed minimum payments for 750 people a day.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - TX