Corrections Corporation of America is proposing a nearly 3,000-bed mega-prison near San Diego for immigration defendants, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. CCA applied for a permit to build a “secure detention facility” on about 40 acres. It would hold more than four times the number of people that the immigration agency now holds in San Diego. The federal ICE agency already contracts with Corrections Corporation of America to house up to 700 detainees – individuals awaiting deportation or a decision in immigration cases – at the firm’s private San Diego Correctional Facility, which sits on land leased from the county.
CCA said the prison would be built as a way of ensuring it retains the immigration agency’s detention business if the company loses its existing facility. A demand for immigration detention beds exists in San Diego because of stepped-up immigration enforcement nationwide and because the agency does not have so many beds as it once did at the San Diego Correctional Facility. Rob Hixson, a commercial real estate broker who is chairman of the city of San Diego’s planning committee for the area, has not heard any complaints about the proposal. “A lot of people say ‘not in my backyard,’ but this is a pretty big backyard,” Hixson said. With upward of 30,000 immigrants now in ICE custody – up from about 18,500 three years ago – Immigration and Customs Enforcement has increasingly turned to private contractors to house detainees.