As you may have already heard, President Trump is tough on immigration. From his pledge to build a wall on the shared border with Mexico, to ending the Dreamer program that protects young immigrants from deportation, Trump has made choices that negatively affect immigration. However, one decision that hasn’t received much news coverage is his reversal of Obama’s phasing out of private prisons. This decision will have a significant impact for immigrants.
A private prison is a for-profit prison run by a private company that is contracted by the U.S. government. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported that private prisons held nearly three-quarters of federal immigration detainees in 2016.
Private prisons are phased–out
In August of 2016, the Obama administration announced the phase-out of the Department of Justice’s use of private prisons. This announcement came a week after a poor report on private prisons was released. The Inspector General had found that private prisons consistently failed to meet federal standards in preventing dangerous conditions, intercepting contraband and being accountable for staff misconduct.
Private prisons are back in
In February of 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked the phase-out order. In late 2017, ICE requested information from contractors for possible new detention sites in Chicago, Detroit, St. Paul and Salt Lake City.
Private prisons’ effect on immigration policy
A recent report discussed the role of private prison industry in sponsoring and drafting Arizona’s immigration bill. Following Arizona’s immigration bill, 36 other state legislatures proposed copycat bills. This is alarming because immigrants and noncitizens continue to grow in detainment and are creating profit for the private prisons that house them. The 2016 report, found that between 2003 and 2012, both CCA and The GEO Group—the two largest private prisons corporations in the U.S.—spent more than 90% of their lobbying dollars in states that have proposed Arizona copycat bills.
Getting tough on immigration
The 2016 report also spoke of the private prisons corporations acting like any for-profit business would: They not only sell their product, but look for ways of increasing the demand for their product. In this case, this means encouraging legislation that leads to increased detainment and incarceration of immigrants. The corporations are also discouraging federal immigration reform because that results in improved profits.
If you or a loved one are detained and are being threatened with deportation, consult with an experienced deportation defense lawyer. Even as the country’s immigration laws are toughened, there still is hope for a new life in America.