Over the last 10 years, a second-class prison system for immigrants has sprung up across some of the most remote landscapes in the United States.
Every night, 23,000 people—most of them held for minor immigration infractions—are locked up in these facilities. That’s in addition to the 34,000 immigrants believed to be housed in U.S. immigration detention facilities.
A decade ago, these infractions would have resulted in little more than a bus ride back home. Now, these people end up in places like this.
Established without a single vote in Congress, these Criminal Alien Requirement prisons, as they are called, have funneled billions of taxpayer dollars into private companies, a Fusion investigation has found.
Roughly two-thirds of immigrants who serve time in the federal prison system are locked up for “illegal reentry” — an offense that was once rarely prosecuted. In 2005, that changed. The federal government decided to ramp up prosecutions under an internal program called Operation Streamline, and the number of cases has risen over 183 percent since its implementation, with an average sentence of 18 months behind bars..
Very little is known about these facilities because company records are often exempt from the Freedom of Information Act under a provision intended to protect trade secrets.
We went to Texas to take pictures of one of these facilities from a public road. Guards called the sheriff, who told us to leave immediately and “never come back.”
Read the Fusion investigation on the “Shadow Prisons” by visiting Fusion.net/shadow-prisons.