Private Contractors Made Billions From Immigration and Corrections Contracts Under Trump, Obama

Corporations Received More Than $2.3 Billion in Federal Contracts in 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ten major contractors to federal agencies that run immigration and correction systems have seen their government contracts double since 2013 due to a crackdown on undocumented immigrants under the Trump and Obama administrations, according to a new Public Citizen report.

The 10 large contracting firms analyzed in the report work for five federal agencies implementing federal immigration, corrections and detention policies. These companies received $2.3 billion in federal contract revenue last year, up 17% from nearly $2 billion at the start of President Donald Trump’s term and more than double the $942 million those same companies received in 2013.

Two private prison corporations that have made sizable political donations were the largest beneficiaries. GEO Group Inc., based in Boca Raton, Fla., has received about $1.7 billion under the Trump administration, while Nashville-based CoreCivic received $1.2 billion during that same time period.

“Under both administrations the U.S. government’s efforts to manage the Central American refugee crisis have been both a human rights disaster and a big moneymaker for well-placed federal contractors,” said Alan Zibel, research director for Public Citizen’s Corporate Presidency Project and the report’s author.

Five companies have seen contract revenue increases of 25% or more from the last two years of the Obama administration to the first two years of the Trump administration. Contract revenue more than tripled (329%) at Deloitte Consulting, was up by 43% at Geo Group Inc. and increased 40% at MVM Inc. Others showing large increases over that same time period were Comprehensive Health Services Inc. (39%) and Unisys Corp. (25%).

The surge in spending documented in Public Citizen’s report began during President Barack Obama’s second term amid a surge in Central American migrants. Under Trump, spending has ramped up even more as the federal government has pressed ahead with sweeping efforts to constrain the flow of immigration to the U.S.

“No government should hand over power to control the lives of incarcerated people to for-profit businesses. Doing so virtually guarantees civil and human rights abuses, as we have seen again and again,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Use of private prisons is a self-reinforcing problem. The for-profit prison and detention industry also functions as a lobby to perpetuate and expand private detention. It’s past time to shut down this business once and for all.”

Additionally, the report found that the surge in immigration detention contracting appears to be driving up overall contracting at some federal agencies. In total, the five agencies and offices studied by Public Citizen awarded more than $10.2 billion in contracts last year, up $1.1 billion, or 12%, from $9.1 billion the prior year.

For the analysis, Public Citizen reviewed contracts awarded by five agencies: the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, all of which have contracts with private detention firms, security companies and air charter firms that execute the administration’s immigration policies.

Read the full report here.