Minnesota lawmakers announce plan to ban for-profit immigration detention

An empty, privately-owned prison
This closed prison in Appleton, Minn., is owned by a private company, CoreCivic, one of the highest-paid immigration contractors in the United States.
Mark Steil | MPR News 2015 file

Two Minnesota lawmakers announced Friday their plans to introduce a bill that would ban for-profit immigration detention centers in Minnesota.

The announcement comes after MPR News reported on a private company's push to reopen a vacant state prison as an immigration detention facility in the the city of Appleton, Minn., about three hours west of the Twin Cities.

Reps. Michael Howard, DFL-Richfield, and Aisha Gomez, DFL-Minneapolis, plan to introduce the bill, calling for-profit immigration detention "immoral, wrong and has no place in the state of Minnesota."

"When you look at what's happened at the southern border, the thought of bringing that to Minnesota, it's not right,” Howard said. “We should make sure that no one is profiting from the detention of immigrant families.”

The Tennessee-based firm CoreCivic, which is one of the highest-paid immigration contractors in the nation, has been lobbying local elected officials to support their proposal. Some local officials back the plan because of the jobs it would bring.

The DFL lawmakers hope to follow similar legislation in Illinois that bans for-profit detention centers from operating in that state.

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