The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Contractors get $750 per child per day to detain migrants. Something’s wrong here.

Carolina Isabel Iraheta stands in the room she prepared for her two sons in an apartment she rented in Arlington as part of her effort to win their release from U.S. custody. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

One statement in the Sept. 4 Metro article “An eight-week wait to get her kids back” especially caught my attention: “Instead [of a hearing or rules of evidence], a caseworker employed by the shelter — in [Carolina Isabel]Iraheta’s case, a for-profit contractor — has broad authority over the process.” The article explained the seemingly never-ending requirements that this contractor employee placed that impeded this family’s reunification. It also stated that the shelter contractor, Comprehensive Health Services, receives $750 per child per day for its services of detaining children. Yet this same company is deciding whether these children can be reunited, i.e., released from detention. There is a clear conflict of interest here.

Undoubtedly, the company makes some profit from the $750 per day, and one can only suppose less money for the “processing” part of the contract. So the longer a child is detained, the more profit the contractor makes. It would be unsurprising to find that the “processing” employees, such as Monica Vega, are working under pressure from their management to stretch out detentions in the interest of corporate profits.

This should be stopped. The company that profits from these detentions should not be in charge of determining releases.

Nancy L. Navarro, Rockville