The country’s two largest private prison companies, CoreCivic and GEO Group, said President Donald Trump’s deportation strategy is good for business in earnings calls earlier this week, Business Insider reports.
Immigration arrests and border apprehensions in the Southwest have declined under Trump, but arrests in the interior of the country have sharply increased. The downturn in border arrests can be partially attributed to a decline in immigrants attempting to cross the border, which began during the Obama administration and has plummeted since Trump’s inauguration.
Border arrests may be down, but interior immigration arrests are far more lucrative for private prisons. According to data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, immigrants arrested along the border are detained for 27 days on average, compared to an average for 52 days for those arrested in the interior. The Department of Homeland Security pays for-profit facilities approximately $126 per day for each detainee, and 65 percent of immigrant detainees are held in private prisons.
“Interior enforcement efforts could create demand for additional detention capacity in other areas of the country,” CoreCivic CEO Damon Hininger said in a second- quarter earnings call on Tuesday. “ICE expects the implementation of new policies and executive orders to lead increases in arrest [sic], charging documents and detainers issued either at the border or in the interior of the country in fiscal year '18.”
“The new interior enforcement initiative may very well provide additional opportunities due to the need for establishing additional processing centers throughout the country rather than only clustered along the southern border,” GEO Group CEO Brian Evans said in an earnings conference call on Monday. In April, GEO was granted a $110 million to build a new detention facility in Texas.
Since February, ICE officers have been required to arrest all “removable aliens” they encounter, leading to a 150 percent increase in immigration arrests from last year. The increase in immigration arrests adds to the backlog of immigration cases, which is approaching 600,000, leading to longer detention times for immigrants in deportation proceedings — and more money for private prisons.
CoreCivic and GEO stocks doubled after the 2016 presidential election, CNN reported in February. CoreCivic donated $250,000 to support Trump's inauguration. GEO Group [donated $225,000 to Rebuilding America Now], a pro-Trump super PAC, through a subsidiary and donated an additional $250,000 to support Trump's inauguration. The latter was the first for-profit prison to be awarded a government contract by the Trump administration.