What Role Will Private Prison Corporations Play in Immigration Reform?

As the immigration reform debate heats up on Capitol Hill, Business Insider has this interesting article regarding how private prison corporations stand to be “negatively impacted by any move to fix the country’s broken immigration system.”

Perhaps no one has a bigger interest in maintaining the status quo than private prisons, a billion dollar industry built largely on contracts with federal agencies, including Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Over the past decade, revenues for the industry giants — Corrections Corporation of America and The GEO Group — have skyrocketed, thanks in large part to a federal program introduced under President George W. Bush in 2005 dubbed Operation Streamline, which brought federal criminal charges against people who cross the border illegally.[…]
The program is part of the Department of Homeland Security’s enormous $18 billion immigration enforcement budget— more than what’s spent by the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives combined.
The result has been a 49 percent increase in detainee population since 2005, and 107 percent increase in the price private prisons charge for government contracts since 2004.
In 2011, GEO Group and CCA reported combined revenues over $3 billion, with $1.3 billion coming from federal sources — a 137 percent increase from 2004.

Lest there be any doubt that this multi-billion dollar business is focused on reform’s impact on the bottom-line, Business Insider quotes from CCA’s 2011 shareholders’ report: “For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them[.]” Similarly, Business Insiderreports that in a 2011 SEC filing, GEO Group provided: “Immigration reform laws which are currently a focus for legislators and politicians at the federal, state and local level also could materially adversely impact us.”

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