The first new immigrant detention center under the Trump administration is bound to be built by a private prison company which made the announcement on Thursday saying it has won a $110-million federal contract to build in Texas.
The company revealed that the 1,000-bed detention facility will be in Conroe, north of Houston, and will open by the end of next year. The announcement coincides with President Donald Trump's promise to expand immigration detention as part of a larger crackdown on immigrants in the country illegally. The move will include detaining people seeking asylum while they go through immigration proceedings.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has already recorded more than 41,000 detainees. It also identified an additional 21,000 unused beds that it plans to use for detention. The Washington Post reported about a memo from the agency which notes that ICE will be unable to secure additional detention capacity until funding has been identified.
A February investor call revealed that GEO, ICE's second-largest private prison contractor has approximately 3,000 empty beds nationwide. Immigrant rights advocates were surprised by ICE's decision to secure a new contract with GEO due to lack of funds and potentially thousands of empty beds.
President Trump has instructed ICE to detain all individuals suspected of violating immigration laws. A statement released by the President in an executive order that was signed on the 25th of Jan, Mr. Trump said that Aliens who illegally enter the United States without inspection or admission present a significant threat to national security and public safety.
The president’s executive order was asking ICE to allocate all legally available resources to immediately construct, operate, control, or establish contracts to construct, operate or control facilities to detain aliens at or near the land border with Mexico.
In response, the Staff Attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project, Carl Takei, said that the contract was a sign that the Trump administration's plans are a huge boondoggle for the private prison industry since it already operates about 75 percent of immigrant detention facilities.
Takei also revealed that the new facility's location was also surprising since GEO already operates the 1,517-bed Joe Corley immigrant detention center in the same small town. He raised concerns over how much ICE is planning to expand its already enormous detention system and where they're going to get the money for the expansion.