The second detention facility in the nation designed to house families, the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Tx., is part of a new push by U.S. immigration authorities to detain rather than release illegal immigrants awaiting deportation, says The Tennessean. The unit is owned and run by Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, which, like other private prison operators, is bracing for an increase in business from measures to curb illegal immigration. The Hutto Center opened last week under a contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). CCA had been planning to shut down the then-underutilized prison. “We do expect there’ll be an increased need for detention beds,” said John Ferguson, chief executive with CCA, citing immigration legislation being discussed in Congress.
The 2007 federal budget calls for 6,000 new detention beds for ICE, which but contracts prison space from county and other governments and from private operators such as CCA. CCA and its rival The GEO Group are among bidders vying to build and run a 2,800-bed U.S. Marshals Service detention Center in Laredo, Texas, to serve a federal court loaded with immigration cases. ICE is tracking down 600,000 undocumented immigrants who are fugitives from the immigration system. If caught, some are expected to go through the prison system before deportation. Judith Greene of Justice Strategies in New York City, sees alternatives to detention. She cited a study that showed 90 percent of people released to a nonprofit group returned for a hearing.