Home Politics Majority of voters want Biden admin to stop pursuing new private immigration detention contracts

Majority of voters want Biden admin to stop pursuing new private immigration detention contracts



Despite a campaign pledge that he would “make clear that the federal government should not use private facilities for any detention, including detention of undocumented immigrants,” Tashman notes President Biden’s administration has sought new agreements with greedy, abusive private prison companies.

“Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has already started contracting with one private facility in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania and may soon enter contracts with for-profit, private prisons in Leavenworth, Kansas and Mason, Tennessee,” he writes. “There are even signals that ICE may expand a private immigrant detention center run by the for-profit GEO Group in Georgia, the very state where the president promised voters that he planned to close all private detention centers.”

Tashman notes that Biden has reiterated his campaign stance as president, telling immigrant rights advocates that “there should be no private prisons, period, none, period. Private detention centers, they should not exist, and we are working to close all of them.” But while an executive order in the first weeks of his administration ordered the Justice Department to phase out the federal government’s use of private prisons, it didn’t include ICE. This is hugely consequential, because the vast majority of immigrants in ICE custody are jailed in private facilities.

“This loophole gave private prison corporations an opportunity to land new contracts and stay in the business of incarcerating people,” Tashman continued. 

When it comes to COVID-19, it’s Groundhog Day at immigration facilities operated by private prison profiteer CoreCivic in particular. That’s because sites that previously experienced major—and deadly—outbreaks are once again becoming hotspots. But private prison companies truly do not give one shit: like previously noted, when detained immigrants at one of CoreCivic’s sites in Arizona staged a peaceful protest to demand safety measures in response to the pandemic, they got assaulted by officers.

In Washington state, GEO Group was ordered to pay millions as result of a lawsuit over its forced labor practices. The company made immigrants detained at the Northwest ICE Processing Center work for $1 a day (or sometimes nothing at all). But rather than pay them their due wages, the filthy rich company suspended the “voluntary” work program while it appealed the ruling. In December, the court rejected GEO Group’s attempt to reduce the settlement amount. This is who the federal government contracts with, on our dime.

“The administration should listen to the voters—and President Biden—and end its misguided pursuit of new detention contracts with for-profit, private prison corporations,” Tashman said. “It’s time to close private prisons and shut down the immigrant detention machine notorious for COVID-19 surges, physical brutality, sexual abuse, racist mistreatment, and denials of due process, not expand it.”


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