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Revenues Soar for Private Prisons Detaining Immigrants

Congress allocated $2.9 billion for ICE to detain 34,000 immigrant people per day in private prisons for fiscal year 2023.

Revenues of private prisons GEO Group and CoreCivic have soared in the last three years, a new analysis from the American Civil Liberties Union illustrates.

In 2022, GEO Group’s revenue was $2.4 billion. Approximately 44% of this amount, or $1.05 billion, came from ICE contracts. That includes contracts for ICE programs involving electronic monitoring of immigrants, which alone account for 17%, or $408 million, of GEO’s total revenue.

CoreCivic’s revenue was $1.8 billion in 2022. Of this amount, $552.2 million was revenue from ICE detention contracts, accounting for 30% of its total revenue.

Private prisons such as GEO and CoreCivic held the majority — 81% — of ICE detainees during the Trump administration, data from 2020 shows.

That figure remained relatively the same in 2021, during the first year of the Biden administration. But that number has increased, as 91% of ICE detainees are in private prison facilities as of last month. 

Advocates have continued to call for the closure of ICE detention facilities and for congress to reduce its budget allocation to ICE for the purpose of detaining immigrants

Congress allocated $2.9 billion for ICE to detain 34,000 people per day for FY 2023. 

Of the total 30,438 individuals detained by ICE as of July 30, 2023, 61% have no criminal record. Many others in ICE detention have only committed minor offenses, such as traffic violations. 

Read the ACLU’s full report about private prison corporations and immigration detention 

Related: 

  • The backlog of immigration court cases shows why the federal immigration system can’t keep increasing front-end enforcement (such as immigrant detention) without sufficient funding for back-end adjudication (immigration courts), Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director at American Immigration Council, explained in a tweet last year. In the last 20 years, the Border Patrol’s budget has grown six times more than immigration courts’. 
  • ICE’s contract with CoreCivic in New Jersey is set to expire on Aug 31, 2023, which will lead to the closure of the Elizabeth Detention Center, the final immigration jail operating in NJ. But the Biden administration wants to keep it open. A court hearing will take place in New Jersey on Aug. 14.

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