On the same day that Bernie Sanders introduced a bill that would ban the government from hiring private companies to run prisons, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced a new contract with a private prison company. Reform advocates are not happy about it.
The contract puts GEO Care, a subsidiary of private for-profit corporation GEO Group, in charge of a program that would manage the cases of immigrant families seeking asylum. The company currently owns and operates several ICE detention centers, including the Adelanto Detention Facility in California, where last month, an attorney alleged she was prevented from meeting with detainees.
Mary Small, policy director for the Detention Watch Network, said in a statement:
We are discouraged that ICE and the Obama Administration continue with business as usual, expanding the role of private for-profit companies within a system intended to punish asylum-seeking families.
To entrust the care and well-being of traumatized asylum-seeking women and children to a subsidiary of GEO Group, a private prison company with an extensive rap sheet of human rights abuses, is unconscionable. This was an opportunity for ICE to reform the system, learn from successful community-based post-release programs, and implement them where needed to support the most vulnerable amongst us.