During the past few weeks, the main story dominating the news has been the plight of nearly 12,000 immigrant minors held by federal officials in as many as 90 facilities across 15 different states. These children, who range anywhere from a few months old on up to 17, are being held separately from their parents who are awaiting immigration hearings.
If you've wondered how the United States government can afford to house and feed these detainees, it's because doing so has easily become $1 billion industry. Funding for immigration detention facilities increased 10 times during the last decade. In 2007, Health and Human Services (HHS) issued $74.5 million in grants to companies looking to operate these types of facilities. In 2017, they spent $958 million.
There doesn't seem to be a plan to slow down spending any time soon. Just this past May, five new projects covering therapeutic and foster care and bedding were announced with their $500 million price tag. Additional bid opportunities are slated to be announced in October.
In recent years, some of the largest benefactors of American taxpayer dollars have been Baptist Child & Family Services and Southwest Kay. In the past decade, the two have received just over $2 billion. Another Texas organization, International Education Services, has received $72 million. There have also been complaints of poor living conditions at their facilities.
With a backlog of immigration hearings and difficulties matching up kids to their parents, legislators argue that it's likely more money than $1 will be paid out. The Trump administration argues that ultimately the immigration crackdown in the country will end up deterring individuals looking to come illegally to the U.S., and thus reduce costs.
Just this past week, many children were reunited with their parents while countless others remained in detention centers far away from their families of origin. Some may never be reunited because their parents have already been deported. It's unclear what the government plans to do with those in detention centers. If your loved one is being held, a New Orleans immigration detention attorney can advise your of your right to petition to be released.