Immigrant Detention For Profit Faces Resistance After Big Expansion Under Trump

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04/20/2021

A dozen Central Americans in T-shirts that read Mujeres Luchadores — Fighting Women — marched through a small Texas town last month toward the gates of an imposing private detention center where they all used to be incarcerated. “Biden, hear us! Shut down Hutto!” they chanted. They’re referring to T. Don Hutto Residential Center, the former state prison in Taylor — just northeast of Austin — named after the founder of the private prison company that holds the contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “These corporations are profiting off of our suffering,” former Guatemalan detainee Sulma Franco says into a bullhorn. “We want all the cages shut down now!” Demonstrations like this are part of a growing grassroots resistance to privately run immigrant jails across the country. The Trump administration dramatically expanded the detention network —often over local objections — and private prison companies were riding high. Under Trump, ICE detained a record 56,000 migrants, asserting they had to be locked up or they would abscond once they lost their immigration cases. But the political winds have shifted. These days, privately run immigrant jails are facing mounting public opposition, state legislatures are considering measures to shut them down, and the prison industry has fallen out of favor with the new administration in Washington, D.C.

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