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Family Detention Expands

ICE is currently accepting bids for contracts to construct three new privately run family detention centers, despite past controversies over  Taylor, TX family detention center T. Don Hutto Residential Center. Several reports speculated that one of these proposed centers might be in Raymondville, Texas this month.

In January 2008, when we visited Raymondville, we talked with individuals who implied that there were plans for the Willacy County Processing Center, would expand its facility to possibly house detained families. The detention center, also known as Tent City, is the largest detention center in the country and is operated by the company MTC.

The back story of the construction of the Willacy County Processing Center is a complicated story in itself.


The Business of Detention has won the Melvin Mencher Award for Superior Reporting and the James Wechsler Award for Outstanding National Reporting.

We’ve also been picked up by Mother Jones  and will be featured on their site come July 21.

Currently, Feltz & Baksh are fellows with the online news site News21, which is a Carnegie-Knight initiative. This year the focus is on Election ’08 coverage, and specifically, they will be covering Proposition 200 and voter registration in Arizona.

Business of Detention site is launched!

Take a look at our new site: When we first began to look at the phenomenon of immigrant detention in the United States, the obvious step to take as investigative journalists was to follow the money. We found that the trail of taxpayer dollars led primarily to the Corrections Corporation of America, a company that had been on the brink of bankruptcy as recently as 2001. Our desire was to present a picture of how the nation’s largest private prison company had partnered with the federal government to detain close to a million undocumented immigrants until they were deported, and in the process fill their empty beds and increase revenue. CCA now has close to 10,000 new beds under development in anticipation of continued demand.This site is our master’s project, which is the culmination of two semesters of work at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. 

Thank You’s in no specific order: Bob Libal, Asif Baksh, Matthew Gossage, Luisanna Santibanez, Judy Greene, Dustin Ogdin, Jose Orta, Tish Stringer, Sheila Coronel, Jim Mintz, John Tarleton, Sean Crowley, Mayra Moreno, Jim Ellinger, Rob Block, Deepa Fernandes, Forrest Wilder, Meredith Kolodner, Susan Long of TRAC, Katherine A. Day of OFDT, Ryan Law of ICE, Team, 2008 Stabile Fellows, our parents and everyone else who helped us along the way.

Tent City expansion near done

The Brownsville Herald reported “the $111 million Willacy County Detention Center’s inmate count has soared as construction crews completed its 1,000-bed expansion last month.” It also reported that the inmate count climbed to more than 1,950 undocumented immigrants and that on March 23, the detention center’s population reach a monthly high of 1,954. It now has 3,000 beds totals. Known as Tent City, the detention was built in 2006 and is the largest detention center in the US.

Read more here about the return so far for the county.

CCA announces first quarter 2008 conference call

The call will be on May  6, 2008. According to the press release, a live broadcast of Corrections Corporation of America’s conference call will begin at 10:00 a.m. central time and is accessible through CCA’s website at under the “Webcasts” section of the Investor page. An on-line replay of the call will be archived on our website promptly following the conference call. In addition, there will be a telephonic replay available beginning at 2:00 p.m. eastern time on May 6, 2008, through 11:59 p.m. eastern time on May 13, 2008. To access the telephonic replay, dial 888-203-1112 and enter confirmation number 7611394.

Expansion approved for Aurora Detention Center in Colorado

According to the Aurora Sentinel, the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission overwhelmingly approved last week an expansion project to add about 68,500 square feet to the GEO immigration detention facility. Read more here.

Immigration Detention/enforcement-related videos from Youtube

Children Confined: Immigrant Detention at HuttoCredit: ACLU

Immigrants Deserve Dignity: Part1

T. Don Residential Center, CBS 11.


DOJ Budget Request Calls for Immigrant Detention Funds

The President released his $22.7 billion budget proposal for the Department of Justice in Fiscal Year 2009. Among the highlights is this funding for the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee (OFDT):

Detainee Housing and Transportation: $37.6 million to accommodate an
anticipated increase in the number of detainees housed in non-federal
facilities. These resources will be utilized to fund the costs associated
with prisoner detention, care and transportation of detainees along the
Southwest Border.

You can read the full press release on the budget request to see other immigration detention related funding.

Stuart, Florida may turn bootcamp lot into immigration center

According to the TCPalm, federal officials are looking to locate an immigration facility in Stuart. The place in question is the site of the site of the former Martin County Sheriff’s Office boot camp, which will take at least several weeks, if not months to determine, the news outlet reported.

The space would provide office space for the Criminal Alien Program and Fugitive Operations Team, which share office space with other ICE programs in Fort Pierce and West Palm Beach as well as cells to hold immigrants while they are being interviewed and processed, but it would not house detainees overnight, TCPalm reported.

“ICE needs facilities to keep (apprehended illegal immigrants),” Crowder said. “As things are right now, they’ll only take individuals if they’ve committed a major crime. If it’s a minor crime, we’re usually stuck with them, and more often than not, they end up back in the community.”

Controversial family detention center may expand

Commissioners in Williamson County are considering adding as many as 250 immigrant women to the population held at the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, Texas. The women will be detained there along with about 250 other women and children who are awaiting hearings and possible deportation for being in violation of legal immigration status. The county’s decision follows the close of an FBI investigation into an alleged rape of a female detainee by one of the guards at the privately operated facility. The guard was fired, but the investigation ended in June with no finding of criminal activity.In early January, Commissioner Ron Morrison, who’s district is home to the detention center, predicted the county may not renew the contract it has with Corrections Corporation of America when it was up for renewal next January.

When the reporters maintaining this blog were in Williamson County conducting interviews for our master’s project, Morrison said the county “may likely get out of the deal. It is not something we’re excited about. ”

Morrison said the county might explore a way for the facility to remain open through an Intergovernmental Agreement between ICE and CCA, noting that “if it goes from Taylor, its not going away, it goes somewhere else. It will go to another facility.”

It appears the county decided to keep the facility and the jobs it brings.