Texas getting new illegal alien detention center

The GEO Group, a private prison company, has won a federal contract to build in Texas the Trump administration’s first new illegal immigrant detention center.  The 1,000-bed facility will be in Conroe, and will open by the end of 2018.  It will be used in President Donald Trump's program of expanded detention of illegals, part of a larger crackdown on illegal immigrants.

Mark Krikorian with the Center for Immigration Studies says U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement regularly enters into contracts with various entities for detention space.  “There’s all kinds of space in various detention facilities all around that ICE can use,” he says.  “A lot of county jails, for instance, as well as privately run detention facilities will often have extra space.”  The Obama administration, he says, “moved away from” these practices.

Krikorian says the new detention center is just a small part of the overall picture.  “That one facility in Conroe isn’t going to solve everything, but it’s not intended to,” he says.  “It’s part of a broader effort to find more detention space.”

Krikorian says it’s important not to have a catch-and-release approach to illegals.  “An illegal immigrant is almost the definition of a flight risk,” he explains.  “If they run away and then get caught later, well, then the same thing happens to them as if they didn’t run away in the first place. Illegal immigrants need to be detained if there’s any kind of processing going on.”  Such processing would include pleas for political asylum—most of which Krikorian says are “bogus”—or the detainee’s home country “slow walking” the paperwork involved.

Krikorian blames the Obama administration’s “eight years of relatively lax enforcement” of immigration law for giving foreigners the idea that they can enter the U.S. illegally with no consequences.  “One of the things that helps deter future illegal immigration is you detain the people who come across until they’re sent back,” he says.  “They get the message, and they send the message home, that there’s really no realistic chance of getting into the United States and staying.”  Changing that expectation, he says, may take some time.

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