Another Obama bypass Congress backroom deal!


**Another Obama bypass Congress backroom deal!

Inside the administration’s $1 billion deal to detain Central American asylum seekers

**[COLOR=#6E6E6E]The entrance to the South Texas Residential Facility in Dilley, Tex., subject of a $1 billion deal to provide detention facilities for asylum seekers. (Ilana Panich-Linsman/For The Washington Post)[/COLOR]
[FONT=FranklinITCProBold]By Chico Harlan [COLOR=#AAAAAA]August 14 at 9:32 PM [/FONT][/COLOR]
DILLEY, Tex. — As Central Americans surged across the U.S. border two years ago, the Obama administration skipped the standard public bidding process and agreed to a deal that offered generous terms to Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest prison company, to build a massive detention facility for women and children seeking asylum.
The four-year, $1 billion contract — details of which have not been previously disclosed — has been a boon for CCA, which, in an unusual arrangement, gets the money regardless of how many people are detained at the facility. Critics say the government’s policy has been expensive but ineffective. Arrivals of Central American families at the border have continued unabated while court rulings have forced the administration to step back from its original approach to the border surge.
In hundreds of other detention contracts given out by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, federal payouts rise and fall in step with the percentage of beds being occupied. But in this case, CCA is paid for 100 percent capacity even if the facility is, say, half full, as it has been in recent months. An ICE spokeswoman, Jennifer Elzea, said that the contracts for the 2,400-bed facility in Dilley and one for a 532-bed family detention center in Karnes City, Tex., given to another company, are “unique” in their payment structures because they provide “a fixed monthly fee for use of the entire facility regardless of the number of residents.”

The rewards for CCA have been enormous: In 2015, the first full year in which the South Texas Family Residential Center was operating, CCA — which operates 74 facilities — made 14 percent of its revenue from that one center while recording record profit. CCA declined to specify the costs of operating the center.
Why immigration officials are deporting Central American immigrants[COLOR=#FFFFFF][FONT=FranklinITCProBold][FONT=FontAwesome] [/FONT]
Play Video1:28

Federal authorities launched a nationwide operation to remove Central American illegal immigrants from the U.S. Here is what you need to know about why agents are targeting this group. (Claritza Jimenez/The Washington Post)
“For the most part, what I see is a very expensive incarceration scheme,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House’s Immigration and Border Security subcommittee. “It’s costly to the taxpayers and achieves almost nothing, other than trauma to already traumatized individuals.”
The Washington Post based this account on financial documents — including copies of the agreements spelling out the Dilley deal obtained from the National Immigrant Justice Center — and interviews with government lawyers and former immigration and homeland security officials.
CCA’s chief executive, Damon Hininger, told investors in an earnings call this month that ICE recently has begun pushing for a more “cost-effective solution.” Those discussions, he said, are in the “preliminary stage.”
The facility in Dilley — built in the middle of sunbaked scrubland, in what used to be a camp for oil workers — now holds the majority of the country’s mother-and-child detainees. Such asylum seekers, until two years ago, had rarely been held in detention. They instead settled in whatever town they chose, told to eventually appear in court. The Obama administration’s decision to transform that policy — pushed by lawmakers assailing the porous state of the nation’s border — shows how the frenzy of America’s immigration politics can also bolster a private sector that benefits from a get-tough stance.
Before Dilley, CCA’s revenue and profit had been flat for five years. The United States’ population of undocumented immigrants had begun to fall, reversing a decades-long trend, and the White House was looking to show greater leniency toward illegal immigrants already in the country. But under pressure to demonstrate that it still took border issues seriously, the administration took a tougher stance toward newly arriving Central Americans.
“This was about the best thing that could happen to private detention since sliced bread,” said Laura Lichter, a Denver immigration and asylum attorney who spent months living out of an old hunting lodge in Dilley.
For the first years of the Obama administration, the United States maintained fewer than 100 beds for family detention. But by the end of 2014, the administration had plans for more than 3,000 beds, and immigration advocates said the ramp-up had broken with America’s tradition of welcoming those seeking a haven from violence. At the Dilley facility, detainees described in interviews an understaffed medical clinic and rampant sickness among children, among other problems.

CCA, a Nashville-based public company valued at $3.18 billion, declined interview requests for this story. The company declined to respond to 28 of 31 written questions. It said that ICE oversees medical care at the facility, and the agency said it was comfortable with the quality of care.
“CCA is committed to treating all individuals in our care with the dignity and respect they deserve while they have due process before immigration courts,” the company said in a five-paragraph statement. “Responding to pressing challenges such [as] this — and doing so in a way that can flexibly meet the government’s changing needs — is a role that CCA has played for federal immigration partners for more than 30 years.”

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