If an immigrant is apprehended by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he or she may be held in a detainment center until his or her court date. However, ICE is turning to private companies for the construction and operation of such centers, which some Kentucky residents may feel is not the best option.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement is constructing five new detainment centers, which would be privately constructed and operated. Currently over $2 billion annually is spent on the detainment of immigrants in private facilities. ICE has recently requested over 51,000 beds for detained immigrants — an uptick of 25 percent since 2016.
These operations are meant to be holding centers for civil issues, not punitive prisons. However, one class action lawsuit is pending regarding alleged forced labor in one facility, after immigrants were paid a mere $1 a day and forced to perform job duties such as cooking and cleaning. Human rights organizations have also claimed immigrants in such facilities are not receiving proper medical care, leading to fatalities.
The Obama administration sought to reform these immigrant jails. However, the Trump administration does not seem to be seeking reform, and in fact may be doing away with some protections. Immigrant advocates are in favor of other options besides detaining immigrants, for example, having the immigrants wear ankle monitors. However, ICE maintains that detention is the best way to ensure an immigrant appears in court.
The prospect of being placed in facilities like these makes fighting deportation and removal all the more important. Immigrants in such situations may want to make sure they understand their legal rights, and seek help if necessary.
Source: npr, “Big Money As Private Immigrant Jails Boom,” John Burnett, Nov. 21, 2017