AT 146 CCA ROAD in Lumpkin, Ga., sits the Stewart Detention Center, one of the nation’s largest immigrant holding facilities. It’s also a multimillion-dollar revenue-generating business. The nearly 2,000-bed facility, originally built as a medium-security prison, is owned and operated by CoreCivic (formerly known as the Corrections Corporation of America), the second largest private prison firm in the United States.
Private detention centers, such as Stewart, are major sources of revenue for the private prison industry. CoreCivic is currently trading on the New York Stock Exchange with market capitalization of more than $2.36 billion. The private corrections industry, according to a 2017 Mother Jones article, has received endorsements from then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Donald Trump. The industry’s stocks soared after the president’s executive order to expand the purview of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. With billions in revenue being generated and a government not relenting from its war against undocumented immigrants, private detention centers such as Stewart seem to be here for the long haul.
Stewart is plagued with “chronic shortages,” especially in its medical facility. There are reports of drug smuggling, suicides, and mixing asylum seekers with convicted criminals. Between 2007 and 2012, only 6 percent of detainees at Stewart received legal counsel during their immigration process; only 4 percent were granted asylum. Most undocumented immigrants at Stewart will spend their only time in the U.S. locked up with hardened criminals, subjected to inhumane treatment.