Georgia’s immigration-enforcement law H.B. 87, effective today, is being met with protests in Atlanta, while protests against new immigrant detention centers will take place in Miami and other U.S. cities.
The Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights and others have organized a day of non-compliance in which Georgians against H.B. 87 and in support of immigrant rights are not going to work or shop, and business owners will be closing their doors. Teodoro Maus, president of the alliance, explains, “We will mark our presence with our absence so that the state of Georgia takes note of the important role and contributions of Latinos in the state.”
The Miami-based Florida Immigrant Coalition issued a press release also protesting Georgia’s H.B. 87, “which accelerates the detention of immigrants,” and calling on President Obama to stop detentions and deportations.
The release adds that private prison companies, like the Corrections Corporation of America and The GEO Group, and some of their major shareholders, made substantial contributions to politicians involved in getting Georgia’s anti-immigrant law, H.B. 87, enacted.
According to the Immigrant Coalition release, the group’s Miami protest will feature “Immigrant Money Making Machine,” a silent theater performance that exemplifies how immigrants are being detained and deported in record numbers as a business.
The Florida Independent reported that the Broward County town of Southwest Ranches and the private prison firm Corrections Corporation of America, which is currently the largest private immigration detention contractor in the county, partnered to bring a proposed immigration detention facility to South Florida. Last week ICE announced that it had tentatively selected Southwest Ranches as the site for its new detention center.
The Independent also reported how ICE’s use of private detention facilities has been a subject of controversy. A Detention Watch Network report indicates that ICE maintains a daily population of more than 32,000 immigrant detainees and that in the last five years the number of immigrants detained and the costs of detaining them have doubled, costing taxpayers $1.7 billion at an average of $122 a day per bed, and nearly 2.5 million individuals have passed through immigration detention facilities since 2003.
Emily Tucker of the Detention Watch Network said during a May telephone conference that ICE relies on the private prison industry for immigration detention. In 2009 approximately 49 percent of immigration detention beds were privately managed. By comparison, only 8 percent of prison beds in the criminal justice system were managed by private companies.
Tucker added that the leading private prison operators – Corrections Corporation of America, GEO, and the Management and Training Corporation — manage a third of all immigration detention beds. Corrections Corporation, the largest ICE detention contractor, operates a total of 14 ICE facilities with over 14,000 beds. GEO is the second-largest ICE contractor, with seven facilities and over 7,000 beds.