SOME FACTS ON IMMIGRATION DETENTION
The two largest private prisons – that’s what detention centers are – prisons -- are run by GEO and CCA. We have such a prison here in New Jersey for adults only in Elizabeth that holds more than 300 immigrants, usually picked up at immigration check-ins or a minor traffic matter. The other facilities are sections of Essex and Hudson County prisons holding more than 500 persons, some of whom are lawful residents with certain convictions.
About 90% of persons apprehended at the border appear for their immigration hearings; the balance fall through the cracks primarily due to notices being mailed to bad addresses, primarily because the immigrant is not sure how to spell the name of the street or the town. Almost half the people in immigration detention are held for two to four years and over a quarter are held for one to two years. In New Jersey alone over the past several years, several immigrants have actually committed suicide. A scathing report by Human Rights First indicated that medical treatment was minimal, food had maggots, dishes were not washed properly, lack of hygienic conditions, and the use of “administrative detention” – solitary confinement – for persons who filed complaints. Women have complained about sexual abuse and the lack of sanitary items during their menses.
All this for the cost to us, the taxpayers about $150 per night per immigrant.