ICE Builds More Immigration Detention Centers

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LOS ANGELES -- On the heels of ACLU allegations of abuse in immigration detention centers in Arizona, La Opinión reports that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is building new centers in California, Florida, Illinois, Texas, and New Jersey. These centers are being designed and built by a collection of private detention center management companies. According to Detention Watch Network, together these companies have spent more than $20 million in the last decade lobbying for the construction of additional private detention centers.

ICE has stated that the new centers will be an improvement for detained immigrants. By increasing the number of centers in these locations, the agency argues, detainees’ families will be able to visit them more easily.

A recent Human Rights Watch report, however, finds that immigrant detainees are regularly transfered from one detention center to another, making it harder for detainees to find legal representation and defend themselves against detention and deportation.

ICE has also requested $72 million from Congress for detention alternatives such as electronic ankle bracelets that allow people to be under ICE surveillance without being held in detention centers. This request represents a $3 million increase from last year’s funds, which would cover an additional 2,500 detainees.

Immigration activists cite the Secure Communities program, which requires local police to share fingerprint data of all arrestees with federal immigration officials, as the reason behind the increased need for space in detention centers.