The Private Companies Reaping Millions From Running ICE Detention Pens

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By Felicia J. Persaud

News Americas, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, Fri. July 12, 2019: On Friday morning, July 5th, #TrumpHasKidsInCages began trending on Twitter. It was pretty significant since it came on the heels of the July Fourth independence holiday and Donald trump’s dictatorial tribute to himself in the US capital.

But while outrage has to be rightly directed at the administration for the bigoted and xenophobic actions directed towards immigrants, anger must also be directed at the privately-run detention companies that are raking in millions of taxpayer dollars monthly for service that is largely sub-human.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (a department of DHS) contracts with private security corporations to run some of the 250 immigrant detention facilities across the U.S.

Here are some of the companies you should know who are behind the running of Trump’s cages according to the National Immigrant Justice Center’s (NIJC’s) three-year Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation. You would be shocked to know that at least two are owned by members of a Native American tribe in Alaska and one by a Sikh church group. But the two biggest by far are The GEO Group Inc. and CoreCivic. Here’s what you need to know about them:

1: The GEO Group Inc.

Headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, The GEO Group, Inc. (GEO) specializes “in privatized corrections, detention, and mental health treatment. It maintains headquarters in North America, Australia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. GEO’s U.S. Corrections and Detention division oversees the operation and management of approximately 75,000 beds in 69 correctional and detention facilities. GEO’s U.S. Corrections & Detention division provides services on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Marshals Service, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as 9 state correctional clients and various county and city jurisdictions. Worldwide, GEO Corrections & Detention oversees the operation and management of approximately 96,000 beds in 134 correctional and detention facilities.

In 2015, the GEO Group’s contracts with the U.S. federal government for operating prisons generated about 45% of its revenues. Since 2017, ICE has signed over $450 million worth of contracts to GEO Group. The lobbying arm of GEO Group spent $1.56 million on lobbying in 2018, deploying only lobbyists who previously worked in government. It also contributed $275,000 to pro-Trump super PAC Rebuilding America Now in 2016. In April 2018, a wholly owned subsidiary of GEO Group called GEO Acquisitions II gave $125,000 to a political action committee in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act, which bars companies with active contracts with the federal government from making political donations.

2: CoreCivic

CoreCivic, formerly the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), was co-founded in 1983 in Nashville, Tennessee by Thomas W. Beasley, a Republican Party chairman. The company is the second largest private corrections company in the US and manages more than 65 state and federal correctional and detention facilities with a capacity of more than 90,000 beds in 19 states and the District of Columbia. CCA has been the subject of much controversy over the years, mostly related to apparent attempts to save money, such as hiring inadequate staff, extensive lobbying, and lack of proper cooperation with legal entities to avoid repercussions. Reports indicate it has earned $118 million in federal contracts. CoreCivic spent $1.23 million on lobbying in 2018, and also gave $378,000 in contributions to political candidates with 93 percent going to Republican candidates. Since 2017, ICE has signed over $280 million in contracts with CoreCivic.

3: Management & Training Corporation

Management & Training Corporation or MTC was founded in Centerville, Utah and operates 24 correctional facilities in eight states. They also operate in Great Britain, under the name MTCNovo. MTC is the third-largest operator of correctional facilities in the U.S. Management and Training Corporation of Centerville Utah runs three immigrant holding facilities in three states, California, New Mexico and Texas.

4: Immigration Centers of America – Farmville

Immigration Centers of America – Farmville is another facility being contracted by the federal government to house immigrants. The Detroit Free Press said in 2018 that Immigration Centers of America, which operates a detention facility in Farmville, Virginia, was the sole bidder for the former Deerfield Correctional Facility in Ionia. The newspaper says the $35 million facility would house adult immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement who haven’t been charged with or convicted of criminal offenses. This came as Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, of the Legal Aid Justice Center, told WVTF in Virginia in June this year that there are 24 confirmed or suspected mumps cases at a ICA detention facility in Farmville.

5: Ahtna Inc.

Ahtna, Inc. is an Alaska Native Regional Corporation established by Congress under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. It is also one of a number of companies profiting off of the deportation of undocumented immigrants from the United States. Ahtna run immigrant detention centers in New York, Florida, and Arizona in addition to the Port Isabel Detention Center in Los Fresnos, Texas. Ahtna will earn a guaranteed minimum of $800 million over the life of the contract at Port Isabel, which has an option to run through 2022 according to The Daily Beast.

6: LaSalle Corrections

LaSalle Corrections was founded in Louisiana and currently manage 18 correctional facilities in Louisiana, Texas and Georgia with a total inmate capacity of over 13,000, and lease one facility to a law enforcement agency. Their facilities include detention centers in Texas, Arizona and Louisiana. Mother Jones reported in May that since February, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement had started using three Louisiana jails run by LaSalle Corrections to house asylum-seekers. ICE in June added a fourth LaSalle facility: the Winn Correctional Center, a prison designed to hold convicted criminals, not foreigners fleeing violence, persecution, and poverty.

7: GPS – Global Precision Systems

Global Precision Systems is another Alaska Native corporation contracted in border security by the U.S. federal government. It is a subsidiary of Bering Straits Native Corp., and currently has millions of dollars in contracts to provide guards and other supporting operations to US ICE. Global Precision Systems is in a seven-year contract providing detention officers and transportation as well as food service staff to the El Paso Service Processing Center in Texas. It is listed as a “Small Business Administration (SBA) Small Disadvantaged Business” established in 2009, according to its website.

8: Akal Security Inc.

Founded in New Mexico by Daya S. Khalsa and Gurutej Khalsa and by followers of the Sikh Dharma sangat, Akal Security Inc. and the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation (SSSCorp) are security companies which has federal and sub-contracts to guard immigration detention centers as well across the U.S. The company has received over $1 billion in federal security contracts. Akal has worked with ICE (and the INS before it) for 20 years, according to The Medium These contracts primarily focused on two specialized needs: detention management and transportation, guarding detainees at ICE detention or processing centers, and as aviation security officers (receiving detainees from ICE custody, usually on the tarmac, sometimes chained, handcuffed, or shackled, sometimes not, and guarding those detainees on deportation flights operated by ICE Air.

It is time for all Americans to demand better use of their tax dollars. How about paying judges to process the cases of immigrants quicker so the business of detention and the cost to American taxpayers is eliminated?

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The writer is publisher at NewsAmericasNow

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