Border Trip 2018: The Industry of Immigration Detention

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At the end of September, LIRS led a mission to Tucson, AZ to bear witness to the conditions of detention centers and immigration facilities housing children and individuals. The following story is part one of a five-part series we’re calling”Border Trip 2018” — a firsthand account written by Pastor Clint Schnekloth, Board Chair of Canopy Northwest Arkansas. To read the series in its entirety, you can go here.


The Industry of Immigration Detention

Our first evening in Tucson is a briefing. The room is full of people committed to the work of immigrant advocacy.

They spend their days protecting the rights of asylum seekers, over-seeing direct service for immigrants, and managing the resettlement program.

The room also includes leaders from Tucson like Pastor Elizabeth Smith and Rocío Calderón who coordinate care visits to the Eloy Detention Center.

No briefing would be complete without charts and numbers. It is here, for example, that I first learn that back in 1994, the United States held under 10,000 undocumented immigrants in detention.

Now in 2018, we actually set a target of holding over 51,000 in detention. We’re required by law to keep the beds full. At $133 per night, times 51,000 for 365 days, this is costing taxpayers $2.5 billion a year. 73% of that cost goes to for-profit private companies, especially GEO and CoreCivic.

Next Up in the Series: Inside the Icebox.

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