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Immigrant Detention Creates Big Profits for Private Prisons

In Breaking News, Featured, Morning Magazine

 

Last week’s 8 to 1 decision by the Supreme Court in the Perriera v Sessions case could provide immigrants with tools to fight the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy. The court ruled that if an undocumented immigrant’s “notice to appear” in immigration court doesn’t designate the specific time or place of the non-citizen’s removal proceedings, then it is not in fact a “notice to appear” and doesn’t stop the clock on the non-citizen’s “continuous physical presence” in the U.S.

Julie Gonzales, the policy director from the Meyer Law Office in Denver, told KGNU’s Robin Ryan that the ruling is significant for undocumented immigrants because that bureaucratic clock starts ticking the moment they enter the U.S.  However if their continuous time in the country gets to10 years, they could be eligible to apply for a 10-year cancellation of removal.  The government had argued before the court that once they issued a “notice to appear” a”stop-time” rule is triggered and the clock no longer accrues more time.

Gonzales says that in Colorado immigrants are facing a deep backlog in courts. Currently there are an estimated 11,000 people trying to navigate their immigration civil court cases. She advises immigrants currently going through their own legal proceedings to contact an immigration attorney to see if the Supreme Court ruling could impact their case.

Despite Governor Hickenlooper’s recent executive action that bars any state resources from being used in the separation of immigrant families at the border, some parents who have been separated from their children are actually being detained in the state.

“For better or worse Colorado does has its own, privately run, immigration processing center known as the Geo Processing Center.” – Julie Gonzales, Policy Director, Meyer Law Office.

Parents are detained at the Aurora detention center everyday, however there is no evidence of children being detained there. The current policy is still causing confusion among parents and non-profits and denying people due process says Gonzales.

“Our constitution includes ensuring due process rights for all people in any court matter, whether or not they are a U.S. citizen.” ~Julie Gonzales, policy director from the Meyer Law Office

Officials with Immigration Customs and Enforcement have faced public backlash and scrutiny over families being separated at the U.S. border with Mexico, since footage of caged and crying toddlers and children emerged.

Critics suggest this shift in enforcement policy has created a windfall for the private prison industry who profit from this new practice. In Colorado the GEO group that manages and operates the 1,400 bed detention center in Aurora is has received payment of roughly half of a $45 million contract made in 2011, but the window to render services closes in 3 years.

The company’s leadership conference in 2017 shifted venues from their home town headquarters in Boca Raton to a Trump owned hotel and have also hired as lobbyists, a pair of former congressional staffers that reported to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Public Citizen reports that GEO Group donated $225,000 to a super-PAC supporting Trump, despite a federal ban on political donations by government contractors, according to a complaint filed by the Campaign Legal Center.

Gonzales contends Sessions is single-handedly attempting to rewrite immigration law and told KGNU she thinks he’s forgotten that he’s responsible to the American people, not private corporations.

“To see Jeff Sessions trample on our constitution – is appalling.”

Listen to the full report here: