A private and profitable corner of the federal prison system thrives after a long-ignored offense is prosecuted.
The U.S. government has quietly created a second-class federal prison system specifically for immigrants. For years the Department of Homeland Security has been known as the agency that houses immigrants awaiting deportation. However, tens of thousands of additional immigrants, most serving sentences for immigration crimes, are held by the Bureau of Prisons each night before being sent back.
And it’s all part of a lucrative business model which has funneled billions of taxpayer dollars into the private prison industry.
A Fusion investigation found that without a single vote in Congress, officials across three administrations: created a new classification of federal prisons only for immigrants; decided that private companies would run the facilities; and filled them by changing immigration enforcement practices.
"You build a prison, and then you've got to find someone to put in them,” said Texas state Sen. John Whitmire, who has seen five of the 13 Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR) prisons built in his state. “So they widen the net and find additional undocumented folks to fill them up."