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ICYMI: Private Prisons Boom in Texas Under Trump Administration

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Austin, TX – Since Donald Trump’s inauguration, private detention corporations like GEO Group have seen their profits skyrocket under Trump’s increased immigration enforcement tactics. As the Houston Chronicle outlines:

“In the first three months of his presidency, at least 113,828 immigrants were locked up in 180 different facilities nationwide – a 10 percent increase over that period in 2016, data obtained by the Houston Chronicle shows.” 

According to Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership:

It’s important for those outside of Texas to know that these detention centers are being built over the protests of the people who live in these communities, as we saw in Conroe. Unfortunately we have leaders, like Gov. Greg Abbott and his underlings Attorney General Ken Paxton and Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick, who are dutifully doing Trump’s bidding in Texas. Like GEO’s alleged illegal donations to Trump, the new discriminatory law SB4, seems to be Abbott’s gift to Trump’s racist mass deportation and detention agenda. Those who most benefit from these attacks on immigrants are private prison companies and we will continue to stand against them.

We excerpt key portions of Lise Olsen’s piece below. It can be found in its entirety here.

Not only are more beds filled, but the time the ICE detainees are being held – as more try to fight deportation – will likely increase from the typical 35-day average stay, GEO officials said recently in a briefing to investors on 2nd quarter earnings.

To house the new surge of detainees, the Trump administration has proposed pumping an additional $1.6 billion into ICE’s budget for 2018, boosting the number of beds in detention facilities nationwide from 34,000 to 51,000.

GEO Group and CoreCivic will provide many of those beds. They own and operate nearly all of the largest ICE detention centers, sprawling prison-like facilities that hold as many as 2,000 and are located in far-flung cities and towns from Tacoma, Wash., to Adelanto, Calif., to Conroe.

Furthermore, ICE detention contracts help boost the companies’ profits because they include target populations or quotas, offer guaranteed minimum payments for family detention centers and allow private facilities to pay detainees a mere $1 a day for up to eight hours work to reduce cooking and cleaning expenses.”


Already in his first months in office, more immigrants are being detained and fewer are being released. In 2016, an average of 2,400 detainees were being released from custody every month through ICE’s prosecutorial discretion; that number plunged to about 100 through June this year, according to data released by the Transactional Access Records Clearinghouse.

Nationwide, between February and late June of this year, ICE agents arrested more than 62,200 immigrants, a third more than in 2016, according to federal statistics released to the Houston Chronicle.

At least 25 of the contract detention centers regularly used by ICE this year also are in Texas. They hold about a third of the nation’s ICE detainees.

Texas also has more privately-operated detention centers than any other state – and new deals continue to be negotiated. They include arrangements to repurpose or reuse for-profit federal prisons that had been sued for civil rights abuses or targeted for termination by the Obama administration.

No company is earning more from the detention boom than GEO, based in Boca Raton, Fla., which lists ICE as its number one customer.

The company contributed substantially to Trump’s election campaign and to his inauguration. It also faces accusations that it illegally contributed $225,000 through one of its subsidiaries to a pro-Trump super PAC called Rebuilding America Now, despite a ban on federal contractor cash, according to a complaint pending with the Federal Elections Commission that was filed by the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center. The Campaign Legal Center has alleged in a related Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that it believes that GEO Group may already have profited from its illegal donation through new business.