Compelling ICE to Disclose Private Prison Operating Agreements — CLC v. ICE


At a Glance

This case seeks to compel ICE to disclose operating agreements that may show a private prison company has a direct relationship with a federal contract. 

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About this Case

CLC filed a lawsuit on April 10, 2018, seeking to compel U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to disclose operating agreements related to its Northwest Detention Facility in Tacoma, Washington, which may show that the subsidiary of a private prison company has a direct relationship with a federal contract — contradicting public denials from its leadership and raising further questions about the legality of its political contributions. Publicly available documents reveal that GEO Corrections Holdings, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of private prison contractor GEO Group, Inc., has a role operating the facility, yet has also contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to super PACs, despite federal law prohibiting federal contractors from making direct or indirect contributions to political committees. GEO has defended its contributions by claiming that the parent company holds the contracts, not the subsidiary.

In particular, GEO Corrections Holdings, Inc. contributed a total of $225,000 in 2016 to Rebuilding America Now, a super PAC that supported the election of then-candidate Donald Trump. The first contribution came one day after the Obama Administration announced its decision to phase out the use of private prisons, a decision that was immediately reversed after Jeff Sessions became Attorney General in February 2017.

CLC has a pending complaint with the FEC regarding the legality of GEO Corrections Holdings, Inc.’s contributions to Rebuilding America Now, and has also filed a lawsuit seeking to compel the FEC to take action on that complaint, which has been sitting on the agency’s docket for over a year. For 75 years, government contractors have been banned from making political contributions.

CLC submitted its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to ICE on December 8, 2017, and the law requires a response within twenty days. Not only did ICE fail to send an official acknowledgement for ten weeks, but it also has failed to produce a single document in response to CLC’s narrow request for more information. CLC’s lawsuit seeks to compel disclosure of the requested documents, which may be important to the pending case, Campaign Legal Center v. Federal Election Commission (GEO).

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District Court
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