The recent news that the US government deported nearly 400,000 immigrants in the past year has been met with an outcry by immigrants and advocates around the country who witness the destruction to families and communities caused by these deportations. But one group has been quietly cheering on the push to detain and deport more immigrants than ever before. The private corrections industry, led by Corrections Corporation of America and the Geo Group, has ramped up its lobbying effort at both the national and local levels to ensure that its detention facilities are used to detain more and more immigrants.
Sixty years after the creation of the 1951 Refugee Convention, the US still protects more refugees than any other country. But the road to gaining asylum has become unnecessarily burdensome and prevents untold thousands of people from gaining asylum every year.
Federal Border Patrol agents aren’t the only people scouring the US-Mexico border in search of immigrants illegally crossing the border, joining their ranks are groups of armed private citizens. These citizens claim to support law enforcement by protecting America from the security threat of uncontrolled immigration. Groups such as the Minuteman Project, Ranch Rescue, and the American Border Patrol claim to “operate within the law,” yet they regularly violate both domestic and international law.
Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that corporate entities can be held accountable for human rights violations committed abroad. At the heart of the debate is the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), a mechanism through which non-US citizens can bring lawsuits in US federal court for acts committed abroad that violate international law.
Due to the relatively closed nature of the system, there is very little publicly available data detailing the extent of sexual abuse in immigration detention centers. However, recently uncovered documents reveal nearly 200 official complaints of sexual abuse in detention facilities since 2007. This number is probably just the tip of the iceberg given that sexual abuse is one of the most underreported crimes in the US.