Audit: ICE’s South Texas detention deal not in best interest of taxpayers, detainees

ICE audit

Immigration and Customs Enforcement improperly crafted a deal with the city of Eloy, Arizona to establish a residential center in Dilley, Texas. Using Eloy as the middleman for the deal, ICE cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to a recent federal audit.

No middleman was needed, the audit said.


“Although ICE could have contracted directly with the private company that operates the South Texas Family Residential Center, CCA, it instead created an unnecessary “middleman” by modifying its existing [agreement] with Eloy,” according to the audit. “Eloy’s sole function under the modification is to act as the middleman between ICE and CCA; Eloy collects about $438,000 in annual fees for this service.”

Also from the audit: “ICE may have overpaid for detention services at the South Texas Family Residential Center, as well as other detention facilities. Moreover, ICE has no assurance that it executed detention center contracts in the best interest of the Federal Government, taxpayers, or detainees.”

The Dilley facility is a 2,400 bed residential center. More residential facilities were urgently needed by ICE in 2014, when a surge of families and unaccompanied minors poured over the Southwest border, including thousands in Texas.

But the original agreement called for Eloy to operate a detention facility that housed adults — but the South Texas detention center ended up housing children, too.

“We believe that the care of children and families included in the modification is substantially different,” the audit reads.

The Texas Family Residential Center is now the largest ICE detention facility in the Nation.

As of September 2016, ICE paid about $261 million to house families and unaccompanied minors in the South Texas facility.

Trent Seibert can be reached at [email protected] or at 832-258-6119

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Trent is an award-winning editor and reporter, who has previously worked The Denver Post, The (Nashville) Tennessean, and the San Diego Union-Tribune. Most recently, he was the investigative producer for Houston’s KTRK-TV ABC-13. He was also the editor and founder of Texas Watchdog, a ground-breaking news group that paved the way for this project. Trent is a teacher of journalism skills, and has shown hundreds of reporters and citizen-journalists how to use public records, databases and journalism tools to keep a watchful eye on their own local government.


  1. Why detain, send a load home daily, or more, as needed. There is no real reason to detain them for more than a few days.

    This is yet another waste of tax dollars towards illegals.

    Build the damned wall already! Enforce the border already!!

  2. Illegals are costing money that American taxpayers could instead spend on infrastructure.
    Send them back. Let them stand in line to get in, like every legal immigrant does.


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