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Obama Deports Record Number of Immigrants, Using Scary Private GEO Group to Get the Job Done

The largest deportation prison in the U.S. is a former jail in the hyper-corrupt City of Adelanto, California, where public officials are often criminals.

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Today, of the 32,000 people who call Adelanto home, nearly 60 percent are Latino and a large number of those are undocumented. Per-capita income is just under $12,000—nearly three times lower than California average. One out of every three people live under the poverty line, and 5.4 percent of the population is what the good folks at the census bureau classify as “institutionalized.” Which is just a bureaucratic way of saying that one out of 20 Adelanto residents is currently rotting in jail—at a rate that’s five times higher than the national average. That’s not surprising: until recently Adelanto had been home to three prisons: one county, one city and one private.

After the real estate bubble popped, Adelanto teetered on the verge of bankruptcy. By 2010, the city was essentially out of money, and had only $100,000 in its reserve fund. On top of everything, California started releasing nonviolent prisoners to relieve the state’s overcrowded penitentiary system. And that meant Adelanto was on the verge of losing a  major source of revenue: a city-owned minimum security facility that housed state inmates and brought in nearly $2 million in pure profit. But there was a way out…

As luck would have it, a private prison company called Geo Group happened to be in the market for a detention facility located in Southern California.

California might have been downsizing its prison population, but the federal government was ramping up its deportation operations and needed private contractors to handle the logistics of housing and processing immigrants. Geo Group—the second-largest private prison company in America, with roughly 60 facilities and 40,000 souls under its care—was always eager for more business, and Adelanto’s prison was exactly what it needed to get in on the action.

In 2010, Adelanto  sold its prison to Geo Group for lump payment of $28 million. As part of the deal, Adelanto helped the new buyer secure a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), for which the city negotiated an additional payout of $50,000 a year from Geo Group.

Geo quickly expanded the facility to hold 1,300 inmates, making it the largest private deportation center in the state California. It projected an  annual revenue stream of $42 million (at a rock bottom rate of $99 per detained immigrant per day). And according to its cushy contract with ICE, Geo was guaranteed a 75-percent minimum occupancy rate, meaning that the feds agreed to pay the private prison company $36 million a year to run its Adelanto facility, whether it contained immigrant detainees or not. All this, of course, is being funded by hardworking American taxpayers.

Remember Adelanto’s majority Latino population, a large number of whom are undocumented? Now, they suddenly find themselves living in the shadow of the largest deportation center in the state, dedicated to concentrating and kicking out people just like them. A speeding ticket is enough to initiate deportation these days, and it doesn’t matter if the immigrant has children or family here:  recent stats show that a quarter of people deported are parents with children who are U.S. citizens.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Geo Group’s Adelanto project was still in the works when I lived out here in 2009, so last week I decided to take a drive out and see how the finished product looks.

It was right around sunset time, and everything was awash in an orange-red light radiated out from behind the San Bernardino Mountains. Geo’s Adelanto facility is located on Ranchero Rd, on the western edge of Adelanto. Just one block past the prison, the asphalt ends and the street turns into a dirt road that disappears into the desert on horizon.

 
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