ICE has had a renewed focus on arrests in the interior of the country as border arrests have declined. In October a response to growing interior deportations Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) quietly released a,
"Request for Information (RFI) to identify multiple possible detention sites to hold criminal aliens and other immigration violators in support of its public safety mission under the authority of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended. These sites will be located in the greater Chicago, Detroit, St. Paul, and Salt Lake City area."
If the plans proceed forward between 10,000 and 30,000 beds will be added to the deportation regime in predominantly Midwest cities.
Today, Congressman Keith Ellison along with six members of the Minnesota congressional delegation sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Duke and ICE Acting Director Roman.
In the letter, they explain that,
"We write to express our serious concerns regarding the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s plan to expand the number of detention sites in Minnesota and around the country."
In Minnesota, signs point to the possibility that influential private prison giant CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) owned Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, Minnesota become a detention center. The facility was closed in 2010 with ongoing attempts to reopen it. In the last legislative session, a law was passed and signed by Governor Dayton with a provision that directs the department of corrections to conduct reviews and assessment of Prairie Correctional facility. The study is due January 15th. In Minnesota, there has been a push for added capacity as racialized incarceration rates and arrests increase. The Minnesota prison system is overcrowded. The Department of Corrections has already been sending prisoners to rural county jails County jails also have US Marshall's office to house immigrant detainees. Therefore there aren’t many options to meet goals set forth by the Trump Administration Under the Obama administration, within the Department of Justice strategies were deployed that reduced incarceration rates. Furthermore, Private Prison contractors faced intense scrutiny over poor conditions leading President Obama to announce in August 2016 that the federal government would no longer contract with private prison companies. During the 2016 election the two largest prison contractors CoreCivic and GEO group donated heavily to the Trump campaign as well as congressional Republicans. According to October reporting in The Observer, "GEO group alone spent more on the 2016 election than it had in the past seven years combined." Furthermore GEO group had also already spent $1.3 million on lobbying.On February 23, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Obama order paving the way for a windfall for CoreCivic and GEO group.Combined the private prison companies have amassed close to 1 billion dollars in new contracts on top of existing contracts in the billion. Their stock price has increased dramatically since the Obama era low point.
With an available Praire Correction Facility and a close relationship with the Trump Administration, CoreCivic will likely be a leading contender to house more deportees.
-Filiberto Nolasco Gomez
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