The Trump administration is laying out plans for the construction of more detention space to house thousands of criminal aliens it has arrested as a part of its crackdown on illegal immigration.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) put out an open request on Oct. 12 for private contractors to identify potential detention sites in the greater metro areas of Chicago, Detroit, St. Paul and Salt Lake City. The request for information, reported Tuesday by USA TODAY, says the facilities will house a combined total of up to 3,000 detainees.
The new facilities would help ICE bring its detention capacity in line with a growing number of immigration arrests. From Jan. 22 through Sept. 9, the agency arrested about 97,500 people suspected of being in the country illegally — 43 percent more than the same period in 2016 under former President Barack Obama, according to the Washington Post.
On an average day, ICE detains around 40,000 illegal aliens in a mix of federal, state and privately run detention facilities. The Department of Homeland Security in April identified a need for up to 21,000 additional beds in anticipation of an increased volume of immigration detainees.
Last week’s request is only for planning purposes and does not reflect a final commitment to contract with any private security companies, according to ICE. The proposal is in line with the White House’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget, which asks for $1.2 billion to increase detention capacity to 48,000 detainees a day, reports USA TODAY.
Although the request for information does not include a cost estimate for the potential detention facilities, a recent contract awarded to a Florida-based private prison company may indicate how much the government intends to spend. ICE gave GEO Group a $457 million contract in May to build and operate a 1,000-bed detention facility near Houston.
ICE is asking contractors to provide assessments of both new construction and existing buildings that could be transformed into detention centers, according to the request for information. At up to 1,200 beds, the Chicago facility would be the largest of the four jails, while those in St. Paul, Detroit at Salt Lake City would all accommodate up to 600 detainees.
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