Donald Trump and the Origins of the Immigration-Industrial Complex


I’ve got a story out today at Yahoo News that offers an inside look at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center, the nation’s third biggest immigration detention camp and located about 85 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The camp is run by Florida-based GEO Group, a private prison operator that manages or owns 139 prison, jails, camps and “community reentry” facilities for ICE and the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Immigration-Industrial Complex long predates Trump, though he is eagerly expanding it. Here’s a brief excerpt from the story:

The country’s booming immigration detention complex, of which Adelanto is a cog, long predates the Trump administration. Modern immigrant detention originated with the 1980 Mariel boatlift from Cuba to Florida, during which more than 100,000 Cuban refugees sought asylum in Florida. The event is often remembered as a testament to American generosity toward immigrants, but it resulted in huge numbers of refugees being detained in hastily erected camps.

The Immigration Detention Complex picked up steam with the Reagan-era war on drugs, which made narcotics felonies mandatory grounds for detention and deportation. It sped up with 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, when terrorism and immigration policy merged in the Clinton-era Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act.

That law expanded the number of offenses that called for mandatory detention and deportation, and made violations retroactive. As a result, if you had been convicted of a felony at any time prior to 1996, it was now grounds for deportation. It also stripped permanent residents of most protections and tossed them into the same legal category as other noncitizens.

The 9/11 attacks launched a new immigration crackdown and gave birth to ICE. The early Obama years saw more transparency and better standards at detention camps, said Silky Shah, director of the Detention Watch Network, but by the end of his administration the size of the detention complex had swelled. “That’s when we get the idea that detention equals deterrence,” Shah said.

To read the whole story, click here

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