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Immigration Law

ICE Seeks to Increase Family Immigration Detention Bed Space

Jason Buch, San Antonio Express-News, Nov. 2, 2016 - "Months before the Obama presidency ends, opponents of family detention are concerned his administration is expanding the controversial policy centered on two immigration holding facilities south of San Antonio.

Last week, ICE said it is reviewing proposals for an additional 2,500 beds.

Immigration advocates long have criticized the Dilley center and another 1,000-bed facility in Karnes County because they say the majority of Central American mothers and children coming to the U.S. are asylum seekers fleeing gang violence in that country. They expressed dismay that ICE announced it would expand the number of beds allocated for family detention shortly after a panel convened by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson recommended ending the practice, and while a similar panel is considering whether ICE should discontinue the use of private prison contractors. ...

Under the new contract between the city of Eloy, Arizona, ICE and Corrections Corporation of America, the government will pay $13 million a month to operate the Dilley detention center, about half of what it was previously paying. Alonzo Peña, ICE’s former deputy director, said he doubts the agency will make major moves “because it’s so close to the election and there’s the completely opposing ideas between the two candidates and what they want to do with immigration.”

“I don’t know what they’re thinking to be honest with you,” said Michelle Brané, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program for the Women’s Refugee Commission, about ICE’s renewal of the Dilley contract. “I find it odd, and it certainly is not setting things up for the new president in any way, whoever that is, to move forward with their own plan.”

After the surge of Central American families crossing into the Rio Grande Valley in 2014, ICE built the Dilley center, the largest in the country, and converted the Karnes County center to hold children, later expanding it to its current capacity."