ICE Plans More Raids Targeting Women and Kids As Private Detention Center Profits Soar

Children being held at the South Texas Family Residential Center drew pictures depicting what it was like when ICE raided their home and swept them to immigrant detention.
Children being held at the South Texas Family Residential Center drew pictures depicting what it was like when ICE raided their home and swept them to immigrant detention.
Courtesy of RAICES

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is planning another round of raids similar to those over a two-day stretch in January that targeted undocumented women and children from Central America living in Georgia, North Carolina and Texas, Reuters reported yesterday, citing an internal ICE document and two anonymous sources who confirmed the operation.

It's unclear when exactly the next wave of raids will take place, but Reuters says the surge is expected to last 30 days. If the raids are indeed similar to January's, then ICE will likely be rounding up women and children from dangerous countries, like El Salvador, who were unable to access attorney services and had their asylum cases denied as a result. 

The raids would also put more bodies in the nation's already overburdened family detention centers, which advocates and attorneys who represent immigrants claim are often in poor condition, in part because of overcrowding. 

But that's just fine with corporations that own the many privately run detention centers. Two of the nation's biggest for-profit prison companies, Corrections Corp. of America and GEO Group, both reported significant revenue increases in the first quarter of 2016, ThinkProgress reported yesterday. CCA saw its revenue jump to $447.4 million, a 5 percent increase over 2015's first quarter, and GEO reported a 17 percent increase to $136 million.

"Our financial performance was driven primarily by stronger than anticipated demand from our federal partners, most notably Immigration and Customs Enforcement," CCA wrote in a press release. "The increase in revenue was primarily attributable to a contract at the South Texas Family Residential Center. [...] Total revenue also increased due to higher average daily populations across multiple facilities from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)... in January 2016."

GEO group attributed part of its cash bump to "the activation of the 626-bed expansion" of the Karnes County Residential Center, an immigrant detention center south of San Antonio that is at the heart of Texas's legal battle over the licensing of detention centers as childcare facilities. 

The Texas Department of Family Protective Services granted Karnes a childcare license earlier this month, despite criticism from experts claiming the facility is detrimental to child development. But a Travis County judge filed a temporary restraining order to block the licensing. There will be a hearing in that case today. Whatever the eventual ruling is, it will likely affect where some of the women and children rounded up in the upcoming ICE raids ultimately land. 


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