Nydia Velázquez Asks Congress to Prohibit ICE and CBP from Contracting with Private Prisons
Across the country, local municipalities are ending contracts with ICE, rebelling against the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown by refusing to hold the growing number of undocumented immigrants in its custody. However, the reluctance of local governments to work with ICE means private prisons sometimes have no competition. Hence, according to a report by NPR, ICE allocates over $2 billion to private prison facilities. And lawmakers want the practice to stop. In a letter to members of the House Appropriations Committee, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) led 16 of her colleagues asking that the annual funding bill for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State specifically prohibit both ICE and CBP from employing private prison facilities. “We’ve heard numerous terrifying stories of private prisons allowing inhumane conditions to persist in their tireless pursuit of profit,” said Velázquez. “The federal government should not be complicit in allowing unscrupulous actors in the prison industrial complex to profit by treating undocumented immigrants unfairly and inhumanely.” Earlier this month, a number of financial institutions voluntarily decided to withdraw from financial agreements with the private prison industry. The number of undocumented detainees is at a record high of 50,000 according to the latest ICE data. The majority of detainees in ICE custody -- four out of five -- have no criminal record or have committed even a minor offense, such as a traffic violation. “We believe that Congress should follow the private sector’s example and divest from private prison facilities for immigration-related purposes,” the lawmakers wrote. “It is, in our view, time for Congress to reign in these unscrupulous actors who have largely benefited from inhumane practices.” Read the full letter here.