ICE Gives Private Prison No-Bid Contract for Alien Detention Center

ICE Family Detention Centers (1)
AP Photo/LM Otero

U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) appear to be circumventing the bidding process for building a commercially-operated detention facility by having an Arizona city manage the manage the Texas based operation. The new 2,400-bed facility, which will be operated by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), is being built in Dilley, Texas but will be overseen by the city of Eloy, Arizona.

Eloy, Arizona currently has a contract with ICE to act as a contractor for a large immigrant jail located in their community. The operation is run under what is called an Intergovernmental Services Agreement (ISA) according to an article by John Burnett on The ISA allows the City of Eloy to manage the facility without competitive bidding. When ICE decided to build the new facility in Dilley, Texas, rather than go through a time-consuming bidding process that could delay construction by as much as eighteen months, ICE asked the City of Eloy to modify their existing agreement and add a second facility – in Texas.

An ICE spokesperson, speaking on background, told NPR it was a “creative response to a difficult situation. If the government had gone through the traditional bidding process, it could have taken 18 months to get the facility up and running.”

While the City of Eloy will manage the contracts and money for the operation, the day to day operation of the facility will be managed by CCA, the largest for-profit prison company. It is being built as part of the government’s response to the massive influx of illegal immigrants, particularly women and either accompanied or unaccompanied children. It is the third such facility being built.

Dilley, Texas and Eloy, Arizona are located a little over 900 miles apart. Eloy will receive $438,000 per year to oversee the $290 million in contracts. That money goes to CCA which in-turn pays the city its portion of the proceeds.

NPR reported “Typically, when state or local entities decide to host a jail for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, it’s a jail that’s within their boundaries,” says Ranjana Natarajan, director of the Civil Rights Law Clinic at the University of Texas, Austin. “But here, the city of Eloy can’t say with a straight face it has anything to do with the operation of that facility because it’s hundreds of miles away.”

The Texas facility, with 2,400 beds, will be the largest such facility in the United Statesaccording to an article in The Guardian by Cindy Casares. One of the other facilities in Karnes County, Texas is operated by another private prison company, the GEO Group. That facility opened in August but has been a subject of numerous complaints from female detainees who claim to have been sexually assaulted by male guards in front of their children. The third facility is the one located in Eloy, Arizona.

These for-profit detention facilities can be bring a boom to the local economies where the centers are built. According to NPR, Eloy was a “dying little agricultural city” before the CCA facility came into town. The private prison is now the largest employer in town. CCA manages four lockups; three of which are prisons and the forth is the ICE immigrant detention facility.

Eloy city manager Harvey Krauss laughingly refers to the immigrant detention facility as a “gated community with lots of amenities.”

It appears Eloy is simply being used to circumvent the contract bidding process in regards to the Dilley facility. NPR states that Eloy will have nothing to do with the operations in Dilley. “In fact,” Burnet writes in the NPR article, “they don’t even plan to visit South Texas.”

Dilley claims to be the “Watermelon Capital of Texas” but in reality it is a community that makes it’s money from incarceration and oil. The new facility will bring 600 jobs to Dilley along with increased sales and property tax revenues.

The city manager of Dilley, Noel Perez seems to be someone put out at the money Eloy will make from the facility located in his community. “I know we will be a lot better off financially than Eloy, but Eloy doesn’t have to lift a finger to make that amount of money,” he says.

But it is the CCA with its $260 million per year no-bid contract that stands to really rake in the cash.

Bob Price is a staff writer and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.