The government has plans to increase its use of for-profit prisons to house illegal immigrants, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons has already put out a solicitation for a 9,540-bed facility.
The Trump Administration anticipates an increased need for the space as new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions cracks down on immigration laws.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently reported that it had arrested 41,318 people on immigration offenses during President Donald Trump’s fist 100 days in office, which is almost 38 percent more than ICE arrested during the same period last year.
The government’s pre-solicitation posted in April calls for a “contractor-operated correctional facility for up to 9,540 beds.”
“The population will be low security adult male inmates that are primarily criminal aliens with ordinarily 90 months or less remaining to serve on their sentences,” according to the bid. “Each facility under this requirement must fall within the range of 1,200 to 1,800 contracted beds when filled to 100% of the general population capacity.”
There are more than 21,000 inmates in private federal prisons currently. Such facilities have been cited as “less safe than government-run institutions and lacking in essential services, such as health care,” according to a BuzzFeed report.
Sessions, noted as one of the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate prior to being appointed attorney general under the Trump Administration, has been vocal about having tougher enforcement policies and immigration laws. Now, the government looks to private prisons, rather than government-run facilities, to unburden the federal prison system.
After the pre-solicitation was issued, acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons Dr. Thomas Kane told the House Judiciary Committee that “it has historically housed ‘criminal aliens’ who are classified as lower security risks in private institutions,” according to BuzzFeed. “Given Attorney General Sessions’ strong focus on a priority for the investigation and prosecution of immigration offenses, we do expect an increase in additional immigration offenders over the weeks and months ahead.”
“We will monitor those population trends very closely and, to the extent that increases in immigration offenders at the low security level occur, we will […] maximize the use of Federal Bureau of Prisons institutions at a low security level and to the extent needed, contract for additional capacity from the private sector,” Kane said, according to BuzzFeed.
Bureau of Prisons Spokesperson Tovia Knight said the pre-solicitation notice “is in anticipation of population increases due to new law enforcement initiatives,” BuzzFeed reported, and she also said while the notice is for “a minimum of 1,800 private beds, … it is too early to project the magnitude” of any increase in illegal immigrants in the prisons due to new policies.