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Utah company making millions off crisis on the border

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(KUTV) — Management and Training Corporation of Centerville Utah runs three immigrant holding facilities in three states, California, New Mexico and Texas.

Among the three, MTC holds as many as 3,000 immigrants on any given day. MTC does not hold any children, and is not submersed in the recent controversy surrounding children separated from their parents after they are apprehended at the border. However, MTC and other private prison companies have been at the center of controversy for years, and in 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union authored a report that said that MTC’s Willacy County facility, was “Not only foul, cramped and depressing, but also overcrowded.”

Soon after that report was published, inmates at the facility rioted, causing so much damage that the prison had to be closed, and the Bureau of Prisons canceled their contract with MTC. “We have a number of concerns about the private prison industry,” Brittney Nystrom, the Executive Director of the ACLU of Utah said. “We feel there have been numerous instances of violence and documented inhumane conditions,” Nystrom said. She also said private prisons often pursue profits over the welfare of the people they hold, “in order to bring in more money they provide fewer services, have fewer correctional officers on staff."

Despite the controversies, MTC wants to re-open Willacy and build another immigrant detention facility in Evanston, Wyoming. Evanston’s mayor, Kent Williams, welcomes the possibility of the facility being built in his town.

Evanston has been hit hard by a downturn in the energy industry, an industry in which the community is overly reliant upon. Evanston’s city council and Uintah County officials have already approved the possible detention center. Williams and other county leaders toured two of MTC’s three facilities. Williams said he was impressed with what MTC is doing at the detention centers.

"We got to talk to inmates, detainees whatever you want to call them, and the individuals that were there, they were getting medical care, getting food to eat," he said. Williams calls the trip “enlightening” and said he did not see the same things that have been reported about MTC.

MTC is a private company so it is not required to release financial information, so finding out how much money they make running the facilities is difficult. KUTV did find what appears to be a contract breakdown, that suggests MTC has made nearly $38 million running the Texas center.

MTC says there are some misunderstandings about how they run their business.

Issa Arnita, who handles communications for the company, said there is more to the Willacy riot story. He said for years the center had been run as an immigrant detention center, then the Bureau of Prisons decided to hold prisoners facing criminal charges. Arnita said the facility was not built with these kinds of offenders in mind, so the center was not able to handle the volume and type of prisoners being held.

MTC also released this statement saying they provide clean facilities, and also give detainees access to medical treatment and communication with family members.

MTC statement:

MTC does not house any children or minors at these ICE facilities.

MTC has no involvement in the Administration’s immigration policies. MTC is a private company that strives to provide the highest standard of care and services in all areas.

MTC has worked for decades to help people facing adversity improve their lives—training programs for at-risk youth, correctional facilities helping inmates prepare for successful reintegration into communities, international workforce development programs which help build third world economies and healthcare programs to help overcome previously unaddressed medical challenges and to encourage healthy lifestyles. Our mission has always been to help people build opportunities, help overcome obstacles and make a social impact.

Detention facilities provide modern, clean and comfortable places to stay while providing nutritious meals, quality healthcare, access to legal assistance and communication with loved ones.

Cynics can say those in business to provide services in healthcare, education, urban renewal, disaster relief, or for a host of other social problems are profiting from human troubles. But they are also making it possible for the government to accomplish dramatically more than they could without the assistance of the private sector.

Government policies change over time based on decisions of elected officials and their appointees. Contractors providing services to the government aren’t responsible for those policies.

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