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ICE planning more jails across U.S. to house immigrants

By Allen Cone
U.S. immigration officials plan to build more jails to house undocumented migrants. Photo courtesy <a class="tpstyle" href="https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/ice-tulsa-officers-arrest-22-criminal-aliens-during-6-week-local-operation">U.S. Immigrantion and Customs Enforcement</a>
U.S. immigration officials plan to build more jails to house undocumented migrants. Photo courtesy U.S. Immigrantion and Customs Enforcement

Oct. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans to build more jails in the United States to house additional undocumented migrants, a federal government website shows.

The agency is seeking new privately run jail sites in Chicago, Detroit, St. Paul, Salt Lake City and southern Texas to house 4,000 more detainees. Requests for information were published on a federal contracting website last week.

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ICE now houses between 31,000 and 41,000 detainees each day in federal prisons, privately operated facilities and local jails, according to a Department of Homeland Security report.

The agency has arrested nearly 100,000 suspected migrants since President Donald Trump took office and ordered a crackdown on unlawful immigration, according to ICE statistics -- a 43 percent increase over the same time period in 2016.

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Last month, the federal contracting website posted a notice for a 1,000 bed facility within 50 miles of Interstate 35 in Texas. GEO Group, one of the leading U.S. private prison contractors, was awarded a contract in April to build an immigration detention center outside Houston.

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Four of the sites for the new jails are so-called "sanctuary cities" that refuse to comply with federal detainer orders.

"ICE cannot rely on local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with them in holding deportable criminal aliens, so they have to acquire their own space that they control," Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, which backs Trump's immigration enforcement, told USA Today. "This is very encouraging."

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Trump's shift from former President Barack Obama on U.S. immigration policy has drawn significant criticism.

"The Obama administration focused heavily on apprehending people on the border, but the Trump administration is targeting people in U.S. communities very far from the border," Carl Takei, a staff attorney with the ACLU's National Prison Project, said to USA Today. "And because they are targeting cities far from the border, they are looking for detention space in areas where historically they haven't had as much detention space."

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