By Lise Olsen
The Salvadoran woman crossed the U.S. border and sought refuge in Texas a year ago, fleeing from her father’s murderers back home.
She has spent the months since then locked inside a 1,500-bed federal detention center wreathed in razor wire on a dead-end road in Conroe, north of Houston.
Her confinement in the Joe Corley Detention Facility, awaiting a decision on her request for asylum, has cost taxpayers nearly $25,000, paid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to GEO Group, a leading national for-profit prison company, and its business partner, Montgomery County.
Without windows and confined indoors, it’s unlikely that Yesica, 22 – her family asked that her full name be withheld for her safety – has heard the sounds of construction as GEO hurriedly erects a second, $110 million, 1,100-bed facility nearby to house a surge in the number of immigrants being rounded up by immigration agencies. When completed, Conroe will host the nation’s largest immigrant detention complex.
The private prison business is booming as President Donald Trump delivers on his campaign promise to crack down on immigrants here illegally. In the first three months of his presidency, at least 113,828 immigrants were locked up in 180 different facilities nationwide – a 10 percent increase over that period in 2016, data obtained by the Houston Chronicle shows.