ICE should abolished. It’s a disgusting agencies filled with fascists actively engaged in ethnic cleansing. Move the parts of the agency doing actually valuable work to other agencies and then clean house of the white supremacists. Sadly, the Abolish ICE movement faded fairly quickly. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still advocate for it. And in the shorter term, we can also advocate for limiting the worst of ICE.
Biden has signed an executive order to end the Justice Department’s relationship with private prisons. That’s a good thing. As ACLU lawyer Eunice Cho argues, he needs to extend this to ICE.
But the order fails to account for one of the most significant areas of the federal government’s use of private prison companies: immigration detention. As a 2020 report by the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch and the National Immigrant Justice Center showed, the Trump administration enlargedthe immigration detention system at a record pace. That growth overwhelmingly benefited private prison corporations, as almost all of the new facilities were owned and/or operated by for-profit companies, including the GEO Group, CoreCivic and La Salle Corrections. In four years, the Trump administration opened more than 40 new detention facilities and expanded the number of people in the system by approximately 50 percent. At this time last year, more than 81 percent of immigrants in detention were held in facilities owned or operated by private prison companies, a record high.
Biden’s executive order notes the disproportionate impact of mass incarceration on people of color as a reason to end the Justice Department’s use of private prisons. But unless the administration also ends its contracts for Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention, it may enable the continued mass detention of noncitizen people of color under the auspices of immigration enforcement. The past four years should be instructive: As our study showed, many of the new immigration detention facilities opened under the Trump administration had only recently been dedicated to incarcerating prisoners for profit. As sentencing reform reduced the number of prisoners nationwide, private prison companies successfully sought to fill their empty prison beds with immigrants, securing contracts for ICE detention.
This is absolutely correct. We need to make these demands and make them loud. I do believe that Biden and his team will make this move; Cho notes they seem to be moving in this direction. More pressure makes it more likely.