WASHINGTON, D.C. – Please attribute the following statement on the recommendations released Thursday by the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) on the use of private, for-profit immigration jails to Andrea Senteno, a legislative staff attorney with MALDEF. Senteno provided comment during a recent public meeting of the HSAC.
The call to review DHS’s current use of private prison operators followed the Justice Department’s announcement earlier this year that it would stop renewing contracts with private prison operators because of growing concern over safety conditions in those jails. Similar concerns have been raised about privately-operated immigration jails. Since 2004, more than a dozen individuals have died while detained in privately-run detention centers, according to published reports.
“MALDEF strongly urges Secretary Jeh Johnson to end DHS’s use of private prison operators. Latinos are disproportionately impacted by the mass detention of immigrants, which tears apart our families and communities. It is wholly inappropriate for companies to profit from the detention of individuals, more so when those profits result from detaining individuals for non-criminal purposes. Yesterday’s vote should be viewed as a firm rejection of private prison companies being used in the immigrant detention business. The HSAC should commit to further study the use of immigrant detention facilities, especially by engaging Latino organizations and leaders. Its finalized report should reflect the overwhelming sentiment against endorsing private prison facilities expressed yesterday by MALDEF, other members of the public, and HSAC members.”