While the U.S. government has taken steps through a new program to find a different approach for detaining undocumented immigrants, at least one congressman has taken umbrage with the company charged with helping to implement it. Geo Group, a for-profit prison company that describes itself as "the world's leading provider of correctional, detention and community re-entry services," was awarded a federal contract to supervise undocumented immigrant families under the purview of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., objected Wednesday to the "inconceivable" choice.
"I am dismayed that this contract was awarded to one of the same for-profit prison companies that has been detaining women and children in horrific conditions for financial gain," Grijalva wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth, the Hill reported Wednesday. "Given the numerous allegations of mistreatment in facilities run by private prison companies, it is inconceivable that the same entities will continue profiting off women and children seeking refuge in the United States."
The Department of Homeland Security announced last week that it would change its detention program for undocumented immigrants, including making their stay there "short-term in most cases." In an official statement, Secretary Jeh C. Johnson painted a seemingly optimistic, progressive picture of how the families involved would be treated, saying they would be "interviewed and screened rather than detained for a prolonged period of time."
— Eight, Arizona PBS (@arizonapbs) August 27, 2015
In particular, the program designed to ease the experience of undocumented immigrants being detained by the U.S. would in theory be less like a jail, conditions that families held in the centers have complained about, along with various abuses -- all claims that the U.S. Civil Rights Commission found to be legitimate as recently as this month.
Geo Group is also guilty of committing those same types of wrongdoings, Grijalva insisted.
“GEO Group’s rap sheet of violations is long and well documented," he said Wednesday, according to the Hill. "It’s hard to fathom how anyone would think that the same company neglecting the needs of women and children inside its detention facilities would behave any differently to women and children outside of them."