The Involvement of Private Prisons in Immigration


Via Forbes

To many, it is no secret that immigration has been a major topic of debate in the US within the past few years. Similarly, private prisons have caused a fair share of controversy in the last decade, though many are unaware of the large overlap of these two issues. A majority of detainment centers along the border are considered a type of private prison, and, with this, a large number of them are owned CoreCivic and GEO Group: two of the largest private prison corporations in America. 

According to the New York Times, 73% of detainment centers are managed by private prisons. Since the 2016 election of Trump, the amount of immigrants detained each month has only increased, though the standards of the centers have not. There are plenty of videos, pictures, and reports all documenting the “barely edible” food, lack of healthcare, small spaces, and brutality from guards present in immigration centers. At the end of the day, a corporation’s main goal is to make a profit, and, in the sense of immigration, CoreCivic and GEO Group are profiting off detaining large groups of undocumented immigrants attempting to cross the border between the US and Mexico. According to USA Today, in a study done near the end of 2019, GEO Group was estimated to have made around 2.45 billion dollars, while CoreCivic had made around 1.97 billion. 

Since 2017, 21 immigrants have died in facilities operated by private prisons. In June of 2019, the results of a report conducted by the Department of Homeland Security inspector general were released. The report revealed that four detention centers were not even meeting ICE’s own standards, and were therefore considered to be unsafe. This failure to meet ICE’s standards came in the form of expired food being left out (including meat, which can be very harmful), lack of proper resources for sanitation, etc. Three of the four detention centers were owned by GEO Group. 

These companies would likely still be making a large profit even with adequate spending going towards making their detainment centers more livable, though there is essentially nothing stopping them from earning a larger profit by cutting down on their budget for food, healthcare, and guard training. Considering this, companies like CoreCivic and GEO Group are pretty much profiting off the imprisonment of families, while also failing to provide them with the basic necessities. Regardless of opinions on the current state of the immigration system in this country or opinions on the ethics of private prisons, it seems pretty clear there is an overarching issue involving a lack of basic human rights.