CREW filed three requests for expedition of records containing communications between several private prisons and the staff of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), the U.S. Marshall’s Service (“USMS”), and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) concerning or referencing in any way the Trump Administration’s zero tolerance and family separation border policies and its expansion of immigration detention.
As has been widely reported, President Donald Trump is pursuing a “zero-tolerance” policy at the border, which exposes anyone crossing the border without authorization to detention and criminal prosecution, and a family separation policy. Although Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration’s policy to separate children from their parents as an immigration deterrent in early May, nearly 2,000 children were separated from their parents at the border from April 29 to May 31, 3018, and administration officials stated that between May 5 and June 9, a total of 2,342 children had been separated from parents at the border pursuant to the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy.
ICE, USMS, and BOP rely on private prisons like the Geo Group and CoreCivic, Inc, to house those detained under this policy. Last year the Geo Group was awarded a $110 million federal contract to build a new detention center for detainees, and just last Friday, DHS and ICE issued a “request for information” on 15,000 beds for detainees. But President Trump’s ill-considered policy has left government officials scrambling for additional facilities to house detainees, relying on tents on military bases as interim solutions. Private prisons like Geo Group and CoreCivic, Inc. are expected to profit hugely from this crisis.
The requested records would shed light on the extent to which BOP, USMS, ICE and DHS have properly prepared for this crisis and the roles private prisons and those who lobby on their behalf have played in that preparation, especially given the huge profits they likely will earn from imprisoning people at the border.