While President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda has been disastrous and deadly for asylum-seekers fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries, a Daily Beast investigation published on Thursday found that the White House’s xenophobic policies have been a major boon for the private prison industry—at the expense of American taxpayers.
According to the Daily Beast‘s Adam Rawnsley and Spencer Ackerman, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) budget records show that for-profit immigrant detention centers run by corporate giants like CoreCivic and GEO Group raked in over $800 million in taxpayer money in 2018 alone, thanks to generous government contracts that are largely kept secret from the public.
“For 19 privately owned or operated detention centers for which the Daily Beast could find recent pricing data, ICE paid an estimated $807 million in fiscal year 2018,” Rawnsley and Ackerman reported. “Those 19 prisons hold 18,000 people—meaning that for-profit prisons currently lock up about 41 percent of the 44,000 people detained by ICE. But that’s not a comprehensive total, and the true figures are likely significantly higher.”
As Ackerman pointed out on Twitter, the estimated $807 million cost to taxpayers is also “certainly an undercount, because ICE’s accounting of how many for-profit prisons it contracts to is opaque.”
On top of documenting the big profits private prison corporations are making from Trump’s immigration dragnet, the Daily Beast also highlighted the brutal and “exploitative” conditions of the for-profit detention facilities, where detained aslyum-seekers work for as little as $1 a day.
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