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Questions raised over trans pod at new Alvarado immigrant detention center

A single new immigrant detention center south of Dallas has become the focal point of many issues facing immigrant detention centers, reported the Dallas Morning News.

The new Praireland Detention Center, run by for-profit Emerald Correctional Management LLC, will hold up to 707 immigrants, which includes a special wing for three dozen transgender migrants.  Many activists are worried for the transgender migrant population, and hope that the new facility will have security provisions to keep transgender migrants safe from abuse and sexual assault. Nell Gaither, founder of Dallas-based Trans-Pride Initiative, said that a better solution would be alternative-to-detention programs, such as telephone monitoring or the use of ankle monitors. Although Gaither said that "our preference is that they not hold any trans or queer persons."

In the midst of a presidential election and the public unsure which direction immigrant detention will go, the amount of beds at the facility could change. However, that will not impact the payment that Emerald receives. The contract Emerald has guarantees $89.25 per day for a minimum of 525 beds, regardless of if they are filled or not. “It is a guaranteed minimum revenue stream,” said Emerald CEO Steve Afeman. “Otherwise, how would you get a $60 million facility custom-built.”

Though the Department of Homeland Security is currently reviewing its use of private prisons corporations, Emerald CEO Afeman said he's doubtful contracts for immigrant detention centers are under threat.

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