A few employees of GEO, wearing white shirts that bear the corporate emblem and American flag, lingered about the facility on security detail. Hiring rent-a-cops to handle the day-to-day operations of a federal detention facility isn't cheap. According to a report from the National Immigration Forum, taxpayers drop $164 each day per detainee. A that rate, it costs just shy of $42 million to run BTC at maximum occupancy for one year. The report says that, nationally, the number of detainees held in ICE facilities nearly doubled in a decade, from 209,000 in 2001 to 392,000 in 2010.

"If ICE detained only people who were serious threats, the estimated savings would top $1 billion," says Barciela.

The private prison industry is making huge profits. GEO, which is contracted to operate at least seven facilities on behalf of ICE, reported a net income of $78 million for fiscal 2011 on revenue of $1.6 billion. Halfway through 2012, the company had netted $38 million in profit on revenue of more than $800 million.

The family of Samuel Resendiz-Lopez is fighting against his upcoming deportation.
Monica McGivern
The family of Samuel Resendiz-Lopez is fighting against his upcoming deportation.
Immigration activist Viridiana Martinez infiltrated the detention center, but was released after contacting news outlets about the conditions inside.
Monica McGivern
Immigration activist Viridiana Martinez infiltrated the detention center, but was released after contacting news outlets about the conditions inside.

Rex Ford has been an immigration judge since 1993 and presides over the courtroom at Broward Transitional Center. From pictures of Palm Beach society events, it's clear that Ford is a hefty bald man with a graying mustache.

A request to interview Ford was declined.

In May 2009, the New York Times came across transcripts from the hearing of Xiu Ping Jiang, an undocumented waitress from China who had been apprehended in West Palm Beach "on suspicion that she was in the country without a visa," according to the article. She had attempted suicide on numerous occasions and was, allegedly, forcibly sterilized in China — one of the reasons she fled the country.

Ford repeatedly scolded Xiu, who didn't have an attorney at her hearing and barely spoke English, for answering his questions before the court interpreter had a chance to translate them. "Ma'am, we're going to do this one more time, and then I'm going to treat you as though you were not here," Ford said.

Even though she was standing directly in front of him and answering his questions, Ford said, "The respondent, after proper notice, has failed to appear." He then ordered her to be deported to China. Jiang responded by wailing, "I'm going to die now." It's unclear what ultimately happened to her.

Ford is arguably the most hard-line immigration judge in the country. From 2006 through 2011, he denied 93.3 percent of the 460 asylum claims that came before him. Only three other judges in the country denied asylum seekers at a higher rate, according to Syracuse University records.

Between April 1, 1997, and May 21, 2010, Ford also approved at least 9,642 stipulated orders of removal, the most of any immigration judge in the country, according to a report from Stanford University and the National Immigration Law Center. Stipulated removals are orders through which the person detained waives his or her right to appear before a judge and moves directly to deportation.

The report said government officials manipulate detainees into accepting these deals by giving them "inaccurate, misleading, and confusing information about the law and removal process. For example, government agents overemphasized the length of time detainees would spend in detention if they chose to fight their cases and see a judge, yet failed to tell detainees that they could secure release from detention on bond while fighting their cases, or that some might win the right to remain legally in the country."

Karen Tumlin, an attorney who coauthored the report, says other judges have at least brought detainees in for hearings to ensure they understand the agreement. A few judges have even expressed concern that stipulated removals don't jibe with due-process clauses in the U.S. Constitution. Two court cases are working their way through circuit courts that challenge the government's reliance on this practice.

"A large portion of the overall number of stipulated removals are coming from one judge," Tumlin says, referring to Ford.

Henry speaks quickly and nervously in broken English over a phone line that's monitored. He's a 35-year-old father of two with jet-black hair who came to Florida 12 years ago from Honduras. Public records show he has two misdemeanor traffic violations in Manatee County.

In March, Henry got a strange phone call from a woman who wanted to know if he was interested in selling his car. His curiosity piqued, he agreed to meet her in the parking lot of a grocery store on a Friday evening.

When Henry arrived, he says, there was no buyer, only federal agents. They took him into custody. Off to BTC he went.

Henry kept his head down and says he rarely spoke to other detainees who cycled in and out of his room. Four months into detention, on July 15, Henry woke up around 5:40 a.m., stripped down in the bathroom, and turned on the shower.

"Somebody from outside turned off the lights," Henry says. Before he could react, he was slammed against the wall. "They told me [in Spanish], 'Don't move or I'm going to hurt you.' "

Seconds later, he felt something penetrate his anus, then recede. It happened again. On the third time, the assailant drove a foreign object deep into Henry's ass and fled the bathroom.

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My Voice Nation Help

I know one of these people and he isn't some innocent little construction worker. He "rents" out other Hispanics taking $3 + off each hour that each works and keeps it for hisself plus using fraudulent insurance he pays to "work under" ....nice right...as long as noone gets hurt... And do u think paying someone to pass you through the driver license process and not check your immigration status is okay??? It is illegal. Period. When I ... A US Citizen do ANYTHING with the government agencies I have to prove who I am or I don't get what I need...so screw the pity party...this jerk even balked at the US Gov showing Pics of his ankle bracelet on his Facebook ...take your tail home if you don't like it!!!!!!

frankd4 topcommenter

this reminds me of the judge who presided over juvenile court and detained kids unecessarily because the judge had a personal financial interest in the OVER populated juvenile detention center


well why should judges be thought of as any less greedy or egotistical or power-hungry than investment bankers or politicians and after all most judges are in fact lawyers who are notoriously self promoting and self interested regardless of conflicts


still the hispancis only need to look at how america treated the indigenous american indians to see what miscarriages of justice this country was founded on


the only conselation is most every immigrant population has suffered a similar fate


Never ceases to amaze me that most Americans think that PRIVATIZATION of this kind won't cost any taxpayer money, while, in actual fact, it costs us WAY more.

KennyPowersII topcommenter

The arrogance of lawbreakers never ceases to amaze me.


Mr/Mrs. robinked: The world is not a better place because of people like you, calling other humans Scum, not having any compassion. I only feel sorry for you.


it Never ceases to Amaze me that the Lame-stream media  thinks that it IS A-ok to constantly parade the 'plight' of ILLEGALS & their Lawbreaking activities & Theft But Ignore the Plight of Hardworking American's, Taxpayers that have Lost Jobs, services, Scholorships etc. Due to these same ILLEGAL, Scum.........!!!!---Guess it goes back to that ol' "Blame the Victim" mentality.....NOT the Perpetrator of the CRIME..........sheesh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!