Last month as I read about migrant children dying of the flu in US custody because their captors refused to vaccinate them, I wondered whether people who think this is a morally acceptable way to treat humans assume that this treatment will stop with refugees.
Now we have at least one answer to who’s next. Trump is proposing forcing homeless people into new “government-backed facilities.”
Why is Trump looking to incarcerate homeless people now?
It may be helpful to look at the economics of why he’s pushing to incarcerate migrant families, despite more humane and cheaper alternatives.
Today American runs three family incarceration facilities. Two are privately owned and operated: South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas and Karnes County Residential Center (KCRC) in Karnes City, Texas. They’re run by CoreCivic and the GEO Group, respectively.
Yes, the cruelty is the point. But the money is also the point.
CoreCivic is the nation’s largest private prison corporation, with nearly $2 billion in annual revenue. Since 2017, ICE has paid CoreCivic more than $331 million. Growing ICE contracts would “contribute meaningfully to earnings growth to 2019,” CoreCivic CEO Damon Hininger assured investors in August 2018.
CoreCivic runs the nation’s largest immigration detention facility in Dilley. ICE paid CoreCivic $171 million to incarcerate fewer than 2,000 migrant women and children in their Dilley facility in 2018. Every month ICE pays Dilley city government $13 million. Most of that money goes to CoreCivic, but the city government was able to pocket nearly half a million dollars.
The Trump administration is pushing to detain families longer than the 20-day legal limit, which would cost DHS between $2 billion and $12.9 billion, according to government data.
Why does ICE pay these companies an average of $133 per person per night when an ankle bracelet costs $15 per day, at most? Because it provides revenues to the cities, relatively high-paying jobs, and outsize returns to CoreCivic’s investors such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, Vanderbilt University, and Jack C. Massey.
The detention centers are a massive wealth transfer from American families to stockholders, city bureaucrats, and detention center employees.
With so many powerful people getting rich, why wouldn’t Trump expand the program? Like migrants, homeless people are already criminalized and dehumanized in American society. They’re an obvious next target to grow the incredibly profitable private prison industrial complex.
The only check on this growing monstrosity is pushback from concerned citizens. Please support groups like Coalition to Close the Camps.