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ICE Plans Three New Family Detention Centers

The ever-informative T. Don Hutto blog has documents showing that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has issued a pre-solicitation notice for up to three new family detention centers. UPI has a story on the notice, issued in April and with a response date of June 16th.

The U.S. government is accepting bids for up to three new detention centers that would house as many as 600 men, women and children fighting deportation cases.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a call for proposals last month and set June 16 as the deadline, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

The new facilities are being considered on both coasts and on the southwestern border. There currently are two family facilities -- a former nursing home in Pennsylvania and a former prison in Texas.

The planned minimum-security residential facilities would provide a "least restrictive, non-secure setting" and provide schooling for children, recreational activities and access to religious services, the request for proposals says.

The notice is an effort on ICE's part to add to its family detention capacity, and possibly faze out family detention at the notorious T. Don Hutto detention center, the converted medium security prison which has drawn numerous protests, media scrutiny, and a lawsuit by the the ACLU and the University of Texas Immigration law clinic (it's important to note that the settlement agreement only covers Hutto and not other family detention centers).

The proposed facilities would add up to 600 beds, a move that seems unwarranted as the two existing family detention facilities (Hutto and the Berks, PA detention center) have a combined ability to hold about 330 prisoners in the family units. In fact, thanks to the lawsuit settlement, the number of people in the family unit at Hutto has reportedly dropped to around 150, while Berks only had a total capacity of just over 80.

So, where is the need for these new family detention beds coming from? And, more importantly, why is ICE soliciting new detention beds when Congress has said multiple times that effective, less-costly alternatives to family detention should be implemented whenever possible?

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