In a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson, The Advocates for Human Rights joins 343 other organizations calling for the end of DHS's reliance on private prison companies to detain immigrants. While Secretary Johnson has announced the creation of a subcommittee of the Homeland Security Advisory Countil to review the use of privatized immigration detention, it is already clear that DHS must follow the lead of the Department of Justice in severing ties with private prison contractors. Privately run facilities are unaccountable and unsafe.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has become deeply entangled with private prison companies, which now operate the facilities in which more than 70 percent of all detained immigrants are held. This relationship has been disastrous for immigrants, as well as for American taxpayers.
Detention facilities operated by private prison companies have repeatedly been the site of abuse and mistreatment. Recent investigations into deaths in detention facilities have found that inadequate medical care at privately-operated detention facilities contributed to numerous deaths. In fact, the Corrections Corporation of America's Eloy facility in Arizona is by far the deadliest detention facility in the country, with 14 deaths since 2004.
ICE's reliance on private prison companies has enabled the huge expansion of immigration detention over the last decade and has also hurt U.S. taxpayers, who pay more than $2 billion each year to maintain the detention system. The detention center for families in Dilley, Texas, costs U.S. taxpayers $20 million each month regardless of how many people are detained.