“You build a prison, and then you’ve got to find someone to put in them,” said Texas state Sen. John Whitmire, who has seen five of the 13 Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR) prisons built in his state. “So they widen the net and find additional undocumented folks to fill them up.”
Most of the roughly 23,000 immigrants held each night in CAR prisons have committed immigration infractions — crimes that a decade ago would have resulted in little more than a bus trip back home. And now, some of the very same officials who oversaw agencies that created and fueled the system have gone on to work for the private prison companies that benefited most.
The low-security facilities are often squalid, rife with abuse, and use solitary confinement excessively, according to advocates.
—from “Shadow Prisons” by Cristina Costantini and Jorge Rivas, published in February on Fusion. The criminalization of immigration has led to a “lucrative boom in private prisons,” the Guardian reported in a June story pegged to an American Civil Liberties Union investigation of the shadow system. Earlier this month a judge allowed a federal lawsuit to proceed that alleges one of the biggest private prison companies unjustly enriched itself with the labor of immigrant detainees.