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  • Administration Chooses Prison Contractor to Provide Alternatives to Asylum Detention

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    The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released a report today acknowledging that there is no humane way to detain families and calling for an end to the U.S. practice of treating asylum seekers as criminals. The report also found that immigration detention facilities do not always meet basic standards for the treatment of detainees.

    “The Administration should immediately close the family detention facilities in Texas that are holding over 2,000 parents with their children," said Michelle Brané, Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC). “These families are suffering abuses including medical and psychological harm as a result of incarceration and we call on the Administration to act on the Commission’s findings and close these facilities immediately."

    The report was particularly critical of several facilities run by private contractors and yet ICE announced today that the for-profit prison contractor, GEO Care, won a federal contract to provide Alternatives to Detention. While the WRC has advocated for many years for community-based alternatives to detention, and we are pleased that the administration is finally pursuing alternatives to detention for families, we are very disappointed that they have chosen a for-profit prison contractor. Alternatives to Detention should provide non-punitive conditions and services to mitigate any concerns regarding flight risk or public safety.  

    “This was a huge opportunity for this Administration to significantly revise the U.S. response to the border and move away from the detention model,” said Brané. “It boggles the mind why they chose the private prison industry over non-profit organizations that are better suited to provide holistic case management and ensure better access to legal representation for court proceedings.”  

    Despite our concerns with the choice of contractor, we continue to hope this program is effectively implemented to meet these goals and that the result is a reduction in the use of harmful, expensive, and punitive family detention.