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Immigration Law

Cruelty and Corruption: Contracting to Lock Up Immigrant Women for Profit at the Hutto Detention Center

UT Law Immigration Clinic, Grassroots Leadership, Mar. 30, 2021

"The story of the T. Don Hutto (“Hutto”) immigration detention center is a story of women deprived of their liberty and dignity in the pursuit of profits for the private prison company that runs the facility. It is also the story of accountability failures and a contracting process that was designed to ensure continued detention at the facility at all costs, despite questionable legality. The story must end with a decision by the federal government to close Hutto. Hutto holds women seeking asylum during their immigration proceedings, even though most women need not be detained at all, because they have family or community organizations willing to host and support them as they participate in hearings and wait for a decision on their asylum claims. Up to 512 women are detained at the facility at any given time, isolated from legal counsel, family, and other support. The Hutto facility, located in Williamson County, Texas, is managed and owned by private prison company CoreCivic (known as the Corrections Corporation of America until 20161 ). Hutto is operated pursuant to a direct contract between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) and CoreCivic that lasts for ten years—beyond this presidency and the next. In Texas and around the country, as many as 81% of detained non-citizens are held in privately-run immigration detention centers like Hutto.2 Texas is the state with the greatest number of immigration detention beds by far, and almost all detention centers in Texas are privately run.3 The private prison industry is big business in the United States. In 2019, CoreCivic and Geo Group, the two largest private prison companies, had revenues of $1.98 billion4 and $2.48 billion5 respectively. Immigration detention contracts make up 20–30% of these companies’ revenue.6 Because of prior litigation and advocacy, conditions at Hutto are, on paper, held to a higher standard than at many other immigration detention facilities. Nonetheless, Hutto remains a prime example of the many serious problems with federal civil immigration detention including the web of profit incentives woven into the fabric of the system. This report documents and analyzes the history of Hutto and makes the following findings..."