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Audit Reveals ICE Failed to Follow Procurement Guidelines, High Cost for Texas Detention Center

The Texas Monitor reported this month that an audit of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) revealed financial irresponsibility that cost detainees and taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. The audit by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General states that ICE used the town of Eloy, Arizona as a middleman to contract with CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA) for more detention beds in Texas. In 2014, when a surge of unaccompanied minors and families arrived to the United States from Central America, ICE demanded for more capacity to detain adults and minors in Texas. This wayward procurement led the way for CoreCivic to operate South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, now the largest detention center in the country.

The audit states: “Although ICE could have contracted directly with the private company that operates the South Texas Family Residential Center, CCA, it instead created an unnecessary ‘middleman’ by modifying its existing [agreement] with Eloy. Eloy’s sole function under the modification is to act as the middleman between ICE and CCA; Eloy collects about $438,000 in annual fees for this service.”

The audit also questions why families have children have been detained in Dilley when the agreement called for Eloy to operate a facility for adults, a “substantially different” term for modification.

We reported in August 2015 that Eloy was profiting from the contract with CoreCivic. Since then, South Texas Family Residential Center has been under fire from immigrants and advocates. In December 2017, a letter from the Women’s Refugee Commission and several coalition partners to the Office of the Inspector General raised concerns for the emotional toll of separating families, as parents and children have been divided between Dilley and other facilities. This private prison has also been flagged for making kids sick, detaining pregnant women, and violating immigrants’ due process rights.

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