DHS Votes to Shift Away from Private Detention Facilities

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Yesterday, the Homeland Security Advisory Council voted to shift away from private immigration detention facilities!  

CIVIC submitted to the Council a 52-page report on why ICE should end for-profit immigration detention facilities.  CIVIC also partnered with the Detention Watch Network, Grassroots Leadership, the National Immigrant Justice Center, American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the CARA Family Pro Bono Detention Project to gather over 40 affidavits from people who were at some point detained in a private immigration detention facility.  

How did this result come about?
After the Department of Justice announced it would be phasing out private prisons, DHS appointed a subcommittee of the Homeland Security Advisory Council to review and write a report on whether DHS should end privatized immigration detention facilities.  The Subcommittee report, which was in draft form, supported the continuation of private immigration detention facilities, although it did make recommendations for improving ICE detention oversight and monitoring.  One HSAC Subcommittee member Marshall Fitz (with the Emerson Collective) dissented from this recommendation and recommended that “a measured but deliberate shift away from the private prison model is warranted.”

At yesterday’s public meeting, one HSAC member expressed her discomfort with the Subcommittee’s conclusion.  She was backed up by several HSAC members.  After some debate among the HSAC members, DHS Sec. Johnson proposed that the HSAC vote on the following three options: (1) approve the Subcommittee report as written; (2) approve the Subcommittee report’s recommendations on strengthening ICE detention oversight/monitoring but accept the Fitz dissent; and (3) disapprove the Subcommittee report.  

Three quarters of HSAC voted in favor of option (2).  In other words, they voted for shifting away from using private, for-profit immigration detention facilities!  With Trump coming into office next month, we will continue to fight to end private immigration detention facilities throughout the United States.