AILA Urges DHS to Follow DOJ Lead and End Use of Private Prisons

George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it would sharply scale back the use of private prison contractors in the federal prison system. While welcoming DOJ's decision, AILA urges the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to follow DOJ's lead and end the use of private prisons to detain non-U.S. citizens.

AILA President William A. Stock said, "DOJ took an important step today to reduce its dependence on private prison contractors in the federal justice system. DOJ's own inspector general determined there were serious concerns about safety and security in private prisons. This is a step forward, but as it stands, this change by DOJ will impact only a small number of immigrants who are currently detained by the federal government. Left behind are thousands of vulnerable individuals, including asylum seeking mothers and children who continue to be detained in private prisons at the behest of DHS. In light of DOJ's acknowledgment that it makes no sense to pay billions of dollars to private companies to provide substandard care and conditions, there is no justification for continuing their use in the immigration system."

Benjamin Johnson, AILA Executive Director, noted, "Strikingly, DHS has remained silent about the use of private contractors in the detention of immigrants, and DHS's total detention of immigrants has grown rapidly to 38,000 people per day, far above the amount for which Congress provided funding. For years now, the Obama Administration has been championing prison reform and reducing the incarceration rates of non-violent offenders, while continuing to enter into more and more contracts with private companies to expand immigration detention. This disparity must end. The president should ensure that the phase-out of private prisons from the Bureau of Prison system is extended to DHS operations. There is no justification for continuing to incarcerate the immigrant population in a setting that has been deemed unfit. "


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 16081830.