A Florida company has won a contract to build the first illegal immigrant detention center under the Trump administration, as federal immigration agencies rush to prepare for a wave of deportations.
The GEO Group, a private prison company, announced Thursday that it will build a 1,000-bed detention center near Houston. The $110 million facility is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2018, the Boca Raton-based company said in a news release.
GEO is currently the second largest provider of detention space for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and has about 3,000 empty bed spaces in its detention centers, the Associated Press reported. About 10 percent of ICE detainees are held in federal facilities, while over half are housed in privately owned centers like the ones operated by GEO. (RELATED: DHS Wants To Make It Easier For Local Jails To House Illegal Immigrants)
The GEO contract comes as President Donald Trump expands enforcement operations to target all aliens suspected of immigration violations, not just those with felony histories. Part of Trump’s January executive order on immigration enforcement instructed ICE to “allocate all legally available resources to immediately construct, operate, control, or establish contracts to construct, operate, or control facilities to detain aliens at or near the land border with Mexico.”
GEO Chairman and CEO George Zoley says the company is pleased to build on a relationship with the federal government that dates back to the 1980s.
“We are very appreciative of the continued confidence placed in our company by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” he said in a statement.
An internal Department of Homeland Security assessment obtained by The Washington Post shows that the agency has already found 33,000 available beds at mix of private, county and municipal detention centers that it can use to house immigration violators. (RELATED: Homeland Security Drafts Plan To Ramp Up Deportation Force)
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