Over 170 Organizations Call On Biden Administration to End to Immigration Detention Contracts Expiring in 2023

For Immediate Release: 
Monday, March 6, 2023

Washington, DC - Today, over 170 organizations sent a letter to the Biden administration demanding an end to all Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention contracts expiring in 2023.

For decades, government oversight agencies, media outlets, and local advocates have documented inhumane conditions, mistreatment, abuse, inadequate medical care, and death at immigration detention facilities nationwide. Yet still, the Biden administration and previous administrations have empowered ICE and the local entities and private prison corporations it contracts with to ignore and cover up these deadly conditions and continue to operate without repercussions, guaranteeing the facilities remain plagued by systemic abuse. It has long been clear that immigration detention is a fundamentally flawed, inhumane, and unnecessary system that needs to end.

President Biden promised to prioritize the dignity of immigrants and those seeking safety in the United States, but since taking office, the number of people in immigration detention has doubled while the number of people under ICE surveillance has quadrupled. Communities are looking to President Biden to deliver on his promises to bring fairness to the immigration system and reduce reliance on detention. The upcoming contract expirations provide an opportunity to take a step toward fulfilling these promises. 

In the letter sent to President Biden, advocates are demanding that the administration decline to renew all detention contracts set to expire this year, including: 

  • Alamance County Jail (North Carolina), was set to expire on 1/31/2023
  • Webb County Detention Center (Texas), was set to expire on 2/28/2023
  • Sherburne County Jail (Minnesota), set to expire on 5/2/2023
  • Caroline Detention Facility (Virginia), set to expire on 6/30/2023
  • Laredo Processing Center (Texas), set to expire on 6/30/2023 
  • Monroe County Detention - Dorm (Michigan), set to expire on 6/30/2023 
  • Okmulgee County Jail (Oklahoma), set to expire on 7/16/2023 
  • El Valle Detention Facility (Texas), set to expire on 7/17/2023
  • Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility (New Jersey), set to expire on 8/31/2023
  • Joe Corley Processing Center (Texas), set to expire on 8/31/2023
  • ICA Farmville Detention Center (Virginia), set to expire on 9/15/2023
  • Plymouth County Correctional Facility (Massachusetts), set to expire on 9/21/2023

Setareh Ghandehari, Advocacy Director at Detention Watch Network, said:

“We are deeply disappointed in the Biden administration’s choice to make detention central to its response to migration. Immigration detention is inherently harmful, abusive and unjust. The upcoming detention contract expirations provide yet another opportunity for Biden to change course and return to his promises to bring fairness to the immigration system. Biden must act urgently to immediately release people from detention, cut detention contracts and shut down facilities permanently.”

Liz Castillo, Organizing Manager at Detention Watch Network and Texas resident, said:

“As communities across Texas suffer heightened policing and criminalization as a result of dangerous state policies like Operation Lone Star (OLS), now more than ever we need the Biden administration to display leadership for Texans. The minimum that the Biden administration can do right now is to refuse to renew federal detention contracts coming up for expiration this year. In order to stop its role in the ballooning of immigrant detention in Texas, the Biden administration must also order ICE and CBP to stop participating in OLS through the detention and deportation of individuals criminalized under this racist policy.”

Evelin Alvarado, Programs Director for Dream Action Oklahoma, said:

“Dream Action Oklahoma urges the Biden Administration to discontinue all detention contracts set to renew this year. Okmulgee County Jail in Oklahoma will be expecting a contract renewal on July 16th, 2023- we demand that the Administration takes this tangible step to safeguard the the freedom and dignity of immigrants by denying the continuation of this and all other ICE contracts.”

Kathy O’Leary, region coordinator for Pax Christi New Jersey speaking on behalf of the Interfaith Campaign for Just Closures said: 

"We call on President Biden to uphold his promise to close private prisons by making sure that the largest private prison company in the world doesn't undo all the progress New Jerseyans have made to end detention in our state. We demand that the Elizabeth Detention Center close, not for ourselves, but on behalf of the tens of thousands of individuals who have suffered tremendously and needlessly and all of the people who have been struggling to free themselves for the almost 30 years since it has opened. We demand it close on behalf of Abu Bakar who fled civil war in Sierra Leone in 1994 but was caged, intimidated by dogs and given "number 10" to substitute for his name, on behalf of the 20 people who were injured when police stormed the facility in 1995 to quell their attempt to free themselves, on behalf of Boubacar Bah who died in 2007 after sustaining a head wound and instead of receiving medical treatment was placed in solitary confinement, on behalf of Victor Ramirez Reyes who died in 2011 as a result of inadequate healthcare, and on behalf of Hector Garcia Mendoza who was disappeared in 2020 by ICE after trying to free himself and others from conditions that went from brutally inhumane to potentially deadly during the pandemic. We cannot erase the trauma or bring back the dead, but we can take this step to remove this evil from our state and redouble our efforts to remove it completely from our country." 

Read the letter here


Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention. Visit detentionwatchnetwork.org. Follow on Twitter @DetentionWatch.