Congress not only told Immigration and Customs Enforcement to jail fewer people as part of a funding package last year, but also rejected a subsequent request for more money for more detention. Mother Jones reports that ICE has now gone ahead with plans for more detention anyway.
“ICE is continuing to spend money it hasn’t been given. Mother Jones has learned that ICE has started using three new for-profit immigration detention centers in the Deep South in recent weeks. One of them has seen the death of three inmates following poor medical treatment and a violent riot in 2012 that left a guard dead.” The locations of the three private prisons—one operated by CoreCivic in Mississippi and the remaining two by LaSalle Corrections and GEO Group in Louisiana—are intentional. “Concentrating asylum seekers in Southern states makes it particularly likely that they will lose their cases because of the region’s harsh judges and shortage of immigration lawyers,” Mother Jones continues. “There are not enough judges in Louisiana to hear the new cases, and there are no immigration courts in Mississippi.” Detainees will be forced to appear for their court dates via video conference.
ICE has a history of defying congressional limits, jailing people now and figuring out the money part later (usually transferring it from somewhere else). In May, ICE ignored Congress to jail a record 52,398 people, and rather than starving this out-of-control agency, congressional Democratic leadership foolishly agreed to to give the administration more money this past June to deal with the humanitarian disaster the administration created, apparently assured by a pinky swear from Mike Pence that the money wouldn’t be misused. Fools, fools, fools.
“DHS and ICE are flagrantly violating Congressional orders, just as we said they would,” tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who voted against the package for this very reason. “Yet it was Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and I that were wrong to oppose throwing more money to abusive agencies, right?”