US must end booming immigration detention business

Maria Cristina Garcia, an expert on immigration reform and professor of history at Cornell University, says reports that the Department of Homeland Security might soon run out of money to detain illegal immigrants should be a sign that the government must stop paying for private facilities and choose cheaper alternatives to detention instead.



Garcia says:

“Immigration detention is a booming business – so much so that the Geo Group once put in a bid to name the football stadium at Florida Atlantic University. Private companies house nearly half of the nation’s immigrant detainees. There are much cheaper and equally effective alternatives to detention that many immigrant and refugee aid organizations have relied on these for years.

“The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency occasionally funds such pilot programs across the country.  Studies in the U.S., Canada, and Australia have shown these programs – where asylum seekers receive minimal to no supervision – have high rates of compliance because asylum seekers do not want to sabotage their chances of receiving permanent refuge. 

“Since 1996, the United States has relied on detention as both deterrent and safeguard against those who might pose a security threat. Private companies like the Corrections Corporation of America and the Geo Group run many of these detention facilities, which are very expensive.”


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