Today, Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano and Immigration chief John Morton will announce the second phase of a reorganization of the ICE detention system. While the details are still hazy, it looks like it may not be good news for the private prison industry. According to the New York Times ("Ideas for Immigrant Detention Include Converting Hotels and Building Models, October 6) article on the announcement,
The Obama administration is looking to convert hotels and nursing homes into immigration detention centers and to build two model detention centers from scratch as it tries to transform the way the government holds people it is seeking to deport.
These and other initiatives, described in an interview on Monday by Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, are part of the administration’s effort to revamp the much-criticized detention system, even as it expands the enforcement programs that send most people accused of immigration violations to jails and private prisons. The cost, she said, would be covered by greater efficiencies in the detention and removal system, which costs $2.4 billion annually to operate and holds about 380,000 people a year.
It always makes me wary to hear about plans to fix detention system plans by building new detention facilities. However, the move away from private prisons and county jail contracts could be a good thing. It's too early to tell if the moves will include closing some of the large and controversial private prisons holding immigrant detainees such as MTC's Raymondville "Tent City."