Tucson, Ariz. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva yesterday wrote a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano asking her to publicize how much the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has paid private contractors in each of the past three years to incarcerate often non-violent undocumented immigrants. Grijalva’s letter, available at http://1.usa.gov/16htlIW, also asks for more information about why DHS recently spent approximately $15 million to build just 21 houses and lease 20 park-model trailer homes in the unincorporated area of Ajo, Ariz., where standard housing costs are much lower than DHS was apparently willing to spend.
As the letter reads, “The cost of these detentions [. . .] is surely high and getting higher each year. I respectfully request that you release the total yearly cost to DHS of detaining undocumented immigrants in private detention facilities for the past three years and break down the expenditures by state. These figures should be readily available to DHS policymakers for planning and budgeting purposes, and there is no reason Congress should not base its discussion on an accurate assessment of how much the status quo is costing us.”
Grijalva’s concern about DHS housing costs arose from a recent report by Brenna Goth of the Arizona Republic that first revealed the overpayments. A statement to the Republic from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) emphasized that CBP does not use housing as a recruiting tool to find job applicants, calling into question why a small housing project would be worth so much to DHS.
Grijalva asks for responses to his queries by Sept. 9, “when Congress will be back in session and the country’s attention will be firmly on improving our immigration policies.”