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DHS To ICE: Continue Use Of Private Immigrant Detention Facilities

A Department of Homeland Security advisory panel is recommending Immigration and Customs Enforcement continue using private detention facilities to house immigrants facing deportation. It’s the latest in a series of mixed signals on private detention from the federal government.

The Department of Justice announced in August that the Bureau of Prisons would end contracts with private operators for their facilities. However the DOJ recently approved the continued use of privately owned halfway houses, saying the cost for the government to own and operate all such facilities would be prohibitive.

DHS cited similar concerns in their recommendation to continue with the private system for immigrant detention.

ICE spokesperson Yasmeen Pitts Okeefe said the report “recognizes ICE’s ongoing commitment to providing a secure and humane environment for those in our custody."

However one privately operated ICE detention center in Eloy has come under fire from immigrant rights groups for allegedly unsafe conditions and deaths. Fifteen immigrants have died at the Eloy facility since 2004.

The most recent death was a 36-year-old woman from Guatemala who became ill at the detention center.

Jimmy Jenkins was a producer and senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2014 to 2021.