Seventy-five miles southwest of San Antonio, Texas, in the expanse of desert between the US/Mexico border and nestled between oil boomtowns of yesteryear, is Dilley, the epicenter of a new battle over immigrants' rights. The remote town of 4,000 people has enjoyed a hot local economy thanks to its most controversial feature: its private prison.
Dilley houses the nation's largest family detention center, a 50-acre complex that holds 2,400 detainees every night. The center has become a symbol of the resurgent private prison industry and a reminder of why the Justice Department abandoned these facilities in the first place.
The private prison industry, which briefly went into free fall after President Obama's Justice Department announced the government would end its use of private prisons in August 2016, has found new allies in President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- and is making fast dividends on the new deal. Giants like GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) have received billions in taxpayer dollars for renewed government contracts, and have leveraged their private status to closely guard the details of each deal.
That's All About to Change, Though
On Oct. 10, the Supreme Court ruled against CCA and GEO, which attempted to block Freedom of Information Act requests by government watchdog groups. The decision marked a breakthrough for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which filed the lawsuit in 2013 after two government agencies refused to release information about the detention bed quota -- a little known mandate that requires government agents to fill 34,000-bed immigrant detentions centers across the country.
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