Trump plans to expand the number of detention centers to hold more immigrants

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Since he took office, President Donald Trump has authorized numerous immigration enforcement operations to round up immigrants in the country illegally, including thousands of people without criminal backgrounds. Now, to live up to his promise to round up “probably two million” immigrants, his administration is planning to increase the number of federal immigration detention centers nationwide to hold these detainees, according to an USA Today report published Tuesday.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has requested private companies to submit proposals to house adult immigrant detainees at various sites across the United States, according to the publication, which reviewed notices published on a federal contracting website. The sites would be in places like Chicago, Detroit, St. Paul, Salt Lake City, and southern Texas, USA Today reported. In particular, the site in southern Texas would be requested to provide housing for roughly 1,000 ICE adult male and adult female detainees along Interstate 35.

“ICE anticipates issuing a single award, indefinite delivery — indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract for this requirement,” the proposal for a detention center in south Texas read in part. The proposal further explained that ICE was in search of either a single facility that provides 1,000 beds or multiple facilities that provide no less than 200 beds. The agency also requested that the facility must be within a 90-mile drive of San Antonio Airport, an international airport used by ICE Air to send detainees to another detention center or to deport immigrants back to their home countries.

ICE currently has contracts to detain anywhere between 31,000 and 40,000 people every day at detention centers. For the 2018 fiscal year, the agency requested financial support from Congress to detain a daily population of 44,000 people.

The agency’s request for more detention centers comes at a critical juncture in the Trump administration’s efforts to prioritize all undocumented immigrants regardless of the positive equities to their communities that they’ve built up over the years. The annual number of border apprehensions along the southern U.S.-Mexico border is 24 percent lower in 2017 when compared to the same time period last year. However, the number of immigrants detained within the interior of the country, most of whom have lived in the country for at least a decade, has gone up.

ICE agents arrested 97,482 immigrants between January and September 2, 2017, according to a NBC News report, a 43 percent increase from the same time period last year under the Obama administration. Many of the arrested immigrants — at least 28,011 — did not have criminal backgrounds. Under Obama, the agency largely stuck to a three-tier enforcement policy, prioritizing immigrants convicted of felonies or serious serious criminal offenses.

Meanwhile, Trump’s harsh immigration policies has been good business for privately-operated detention centers. His harsh executive orders on immigration have helped industry stocks rebound. Most recently in August, one of the largest private prison operators GEO Group expected a large increase in interior enforcement, ThinkProgress reported at the time.

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