Migrant Detention in the European Union: A Thriving Business; Outsourcing and privatisation
of migrant detention. (MIGREUROP, 2016).
What does a migrant cost per day? That question is spotlighted if migration policy is determined by cost-benefit calculations, rather than by the principle of humane treatment. Such a political approach is taken in many fields of public services, from education and transport to electricity and water. To offer every service at the lowest possible cost, the concept of privatization is always adopted on the premise that only the competitiveness of the private sector necessarily delivers the best prices. Yet it is well known that under capitalism companies are only interested in their bottom line. In order to generate sufficient profit while offering seemingly low prices, compromises are made elsewhere – when it comes to migration management policies, human rights and the principle of welfare are neglected in favor of companies’ profit targets. The immigration detention has grown into a “thriving business” in recent years. Transnational corporations are cashing in, while the social costs of that “business model” are borne by the wider society, in particular the migrants concerned, who are often subjected to shortages, deprivation of their rights, imprisonment and violence. However, the outsourcing of tasks such as board and lodging and administration of immigration detention is also detrimental to the employees of service companies. The study gives sometimes shocking examples of the “migrant’s detention business” in Europe and repercussions of the pressure to generate profits. The current worrying developments are illustrated by examples from the UK, where the immigration detention system is highly privatized and recalls the U.S. prison industry; from Italy, where the public authorities entrust the management and the services related to administrative detention to private actors and where the “Mafia Capitale” scandal revealed the hold of mafia networks on the Italian detention market; from France, where a construction company hired undocumented migrant workers to build a deportation facility, where the very same migrants were later detained before being deported. In addition, the report illustrates the political ramifications of the privatization of immigration detention. Non-governmental organizations are susceptible to being exploited by the state authorities in charge who are shying away from responsibility for their own policies. The study describes in detail the trend towards outsourcing and privatization in facilities for the detention of migrants in the European Union and the impact on the migrant detainees themselves, as well as on politics and the society that we live in.
It serves not least as a warning that if large transnational corporations hold sway in the security business for long enough, policy change will become but a remote possibility and we will all suffer the consequences.