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Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses—We Have Private Prisons to Fill

"Since 2005, immigration has been criminalized as never before. In 2000, when George W. Bush came into office, there were about 10,000 convictions for illegal entry and re-entry—essentially crossing the border illegally; in 2011, even as the number of people crossing the border had plummeted during the Obama administration, there were more than 71,000 such convictions—a 700 percent increase. Immigration is now the most-prosecuted federal crime, surpassing weapons, white-collar crimes and even drugs. Locking up unprecedented numbers of immigrants has swelled the federal prison system. New prisons are being constructed at a rapid pace, most of them privately run. Unlike the rest of the Federal Bureau of Prisons system, prisons for immigrants are completely privatized. So while the mass criminalization of immigrants has torn parents from their families, removed skilled people from the workforce and had a debatable impact on border security, the policy has served one interest very well—private-prison companies," according to an investigation by the Texas Observer.

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