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The Source: Immigrant Detention A Profitable Deal For For-Profit Prisons

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio

It was two summers ago that we saw the tremendous surge of unaccompanied minors and young mothers with children crossing the Rio Grande. They were fleeing out of control gang violence in Central America and surrendering to the first border agent they could find. The numbers of the children and women overwhelmed the immigration system.

But we are only learning now how the Obama Administration dealt with that problem - with a $1 billion, no-bid contract to the largest private prison company in America, the Corrections Corporation of America. What's behind that contract and what is it's legacy?

Chico Harlan wrote about it for the Washington Post - his article is "Inside the Administration's $1 Billion deal to detain Central  American asylum seekers."
The money comes in regardless of how many people are staying at these facilities and according to the breakdown, at times these prisons are higher priced than four-star hotels.
"It would be cheaper to put these people in the Ritz Carlton, says Harlan of the cost per person.

The plan was executed quickly with the goal not of detention, says Jonathan Ryan, executive director of the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), but to deter people from coming. A plan he says was ill-conceived.

"And the reason was because people were not coming here enticed to America," he says. The reason that they came here was because they were displaced from the most violent cities on Earth outside of Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq." 


  • Jonathan Ryan, executive director of RAICES
  • Chico Harlan, reporter at the Washington Post


David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi