Private prison companies Geo Group and competitor Corrections
Corporation of America, for example, stand to gain if Congress
approves any emergency funding for family detention facilities. The
two companies have thousands of unoccupied beds in their prisons and
jails that potentially could be modified to house immigrant
In the past six years, Geo Group was awarded nearly $880 million
from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to
government contracting data compiled by SmartProcure.us. In July,
ICE, the agency responsible for immigration detention, modified its
contract with Geo Group to convert the company's adult detention
center in Karnes County, Texas to house families.
The biggest potential windfall would come if Congress approves a
White House request for $3.7 billion in emergency spending to
address the crisis. But such a large package seems unlikely to make
it through a deeply divided Congress and a resolution looks
difficult before lawmakers' leave for their summer recess.
The Obama administration has been scrambling to house tens of
thousands of children mostly from Honduras, El Salvador and
Guatemala who have flooded into the United States in recent months,
hoping to escape gang violence, poverty and domestic abuse. Some are
traveling with their families and others are crossing the border
An ICE spokesman declined to break out the cost of the Karnes
facility. Geo Group declined to comment and CCA did not respond to
requests for comment.
FLIGHTS AND MONITORS
The Geo Group could also benefit if lawmakers opt for programs that
promote alternatives to detention like electronic monitoring systems
used to track immigrants awaiting deportation.
The company's Colorado subsidiary Bi Incorporated is ICE's sole
provider of ankle bracelets for immigrants who have been caught for
violating immigration laws but released while their cases are being
processed. Bi has earned more than $211 million from ICE since 2008
by providing GPS tracking devices and case managers for the
immigrants, according to the same government contracting data.
A Senate bill proposed by Republicans John McCain and Jeff Flake
would mandate the monitors for juveniles 15 to 18 years old while
their immigration hearings are pending. ICE does not currently use
ankle bracelets for juveniles, the agency said. The bill does not
specify a supplier.
ICE uses the New Mexico-based CSI Aviation to provide charter
flights for deportations. The company has won more than $657 million
in contracts from ICE since 2008, SmartProcure data shows. CSI
referred all questions about its contracts to ICE. ICE said the
company is the sole contractor for ICE Air, which conducts
President Barack Obama has vowed to swiftly return the children and
other illegal migrants from Central America to their home countries.
That could mean an increase in the number of ICE charter flights in
the coming months.
The federal government has also been buying tickets on American
Airlines for commercial flights to shuttle unaccompanied kids and
immigrant families to detention facilities or shelters around the
American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller declined to say how much the
government has spent on these flights or how many tickets they have
purchased. He said American did not have formal contracts and that
the tickets were being purchased on an as-needed basis.
SHELTERS, SOCIAL WORKERS AND INTERPRETERS
Contracts to provide services and emergency supplies for children
arriving without their family members are handled mostly by the
Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, which is legally
responsible for kids that cross the border alone.
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The agency - tasked with sheltering unaccompanied children and then
placing them quickly into homes of relatives or family friends -
says it spends between $250 and $1,000 on each unaccompanied child
per day. More than 57,000 have arrived since October, according to
the U.S. Border Patrol, and the government estimates that number
could rise to 90,000 by the end of September.
HHS has turned to General Dynamics Information Technology, or GDIT,
a unit of the defense contracting giant General Dynamics, to supply
case-management services for kids being released from temporary
shelters, a Reuters review of government contracts found. The job
entails reviewing children's cases to identify if they have special
needs and to ensure the kids are being transferred to safe homes.
Since 2010, GDIT has won around $13 million in contracts to help the
Office of Refugee Resettlement, part of HHS, coordinate the
placement of unaccompanied minors, according to the contracting
The company recently put out a flurry of online job advertisements
seeking bilingual social workers to handle immigrant children's
cases in Arizona, Texas, California, Florida, Georgia and New York.
A GDIT spokesman said the company "offers expertise in various
areas, including ... social work specializing in protective services
and human rights." He declined to elaborate.
Some government contracts have gone to businesses that provide
emergency clothing and supplies for the youth shelters and for
translation services used in asylum hearings and immigration courts.
Lionsbridge Technologies, a translation company from Waltham,
Massachusetts, has seen government need for its services "heighten
over the past 60 to 90 days" as courts scramble to wade through the
flood of immigration cases, said Eric Munz a vice president at
The company provides over-the-phone and in-person interpreters,
including for obscure indigenous languages spoken in small Mexican
and Central American communities.
And then there are companies like Products Unlimited, a small outfit
in Justin, Texas that depends wholly on government work. The
contracting data shows it was awarded about $40,000 worth of
contracts so far this year to provide diapers and pull-ups for
babies and toddlers at an immigrant processing center in Houston and
a federally-run family detention center in Artesia, New Mexico.
(Additional reporting by Fiona Ortiz in Chicago and Richard Cowan in
Washington, editing by Amy Stevens and Ross Colvin)
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