Friday, March 22, 2019

ICE reportedly paid $807 million to private detention centers in 2018

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in fiscal 2018 paid an estimated $807 million to 19 private or privately-operated detention centers used to detain migrants, according to a new investigation by The Daily Beast.

The Daily Beast found that the 19 for-profit prisons in their investigation are holding 18,000 people total in the U.S. this year and the investigation notes that the actual figures could be higher. The for-profit detention centers identified by the Daily Beast hold 41 percent of the estimated 44,000 people currently being detained by ICE.

ICE, in a statement, told The Daily Beast that it could not provide a full breakdown of privately-operated detention centers, but said that using the private facilities provides “operational flexibility” to make sure ICE detainees are housed. “Ensuring there are sufficient beds available to meet the current demand for detention space is crucial to the success of ICE’s overall mission,” ICE spokesperson Danielle Benett told the outlet.

ICE says that it operates around 250 centers, but an American Immigration Council report from earlier this month estimated that the agency runs 638 sites. The Daily Beast investigation also found that the for-profit detention centers often detain migrants for longer periods of time and have them work for wages as low as $1 per day.

For-profit prisons “consistently and substantially” hold immigrants 87 days on average, which longer the 33.3 days on average in public prisons, according to the outlet. Class-action lawsuits against GEO Group, a private prisons group that owns multiple ICE detention centers, have claimed that immigrants have been forced to work for $1 daily wages.

THE HILL