The U.S. government will evaluate whether to phase out private immigration detention centers by the end of November, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced today.
That comes on the heels of an announcement this month by the Justice Department that the federal government will stop allowing private companies to manage federal prisons. Those facilities have been widely criticized due to substandard conditions.
In a statement, Johnson said that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could follow suit.
Currently companies like GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America manage more than 60 percent of immigrant detainees in ICE's 110 immigration detention centers. By law, ICE must have an average of 34,000 beds available on a daily basis in these centers.
"On Friday, I directed our Homeland Security Advisory Council ... to evaluate whether the immigration detention operations conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement should move in the same direction," the statement says.
Johnson said he asked Judge William Webster, chair of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, to create a subcommittee to evaluate whether private companies should continue to run immigration detention centers. "I asked that the Subcommittee consider all factors concerning ICE’s detention policy and practice, including fiscal considerations," he said.
The subcommittee will submit its recommendations to Johnson and ICE Director Sarah Saldaña by November 30, although the secretary didn't specify a date for a final decision.
Johnson's announcement comes almost two weeks after the Department of Justice announced that it won't renew its contracts with companies that manage federal prisons after finding that private prisons are less secure and effective than ones run by the government.