The March 5 op-ed “President Biden: Shut the American gulag, issue a presidential pardon, uphold universal asylum rights,” is not only a hyperbolic attempt to liken longtime U.S. policy under both Democratic and Republican administrations to horrific Soviet atrocities, but reveals a basic misunderstanding of contractors’ role in the U.S. immigration system.
Because U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not have its own facilities, the federal government has for decades relied nearly exclusively on contractors to house and process migrants navigating the immigration court system. Contractors are held to strict federal standards, which were updated and strengthened under President Obama. Everything from health care services and access to attorneys and immigrant rights advocates are provided. Without this critical infrastructure, migrants would likely be housed in overcrowded local jails alongside potentially dangerous people.