From GovExec yesterday:
The Customs and Border Protection agency is considering a variety of methods to accommodate what is expected to be a surge in illegal immigrants detained, including holding those arrested on ships to await trial, a source within the agency said.
CBP last month called upon managers to meet and discuss possible methods of handling potentially tens of thousands of illegal immigrants who are jailed as they await deportation or a trial, said a source with firsthand knowledge of the discussions.
The bureau is considering either buying out-of-service cruise ships or leasing them to create “detention barges” at sea, the source said. The barges would act as jails, housing alleged violators of U.S. immigration law.
Because the cruise industry is not as profitable as it once was, CBP may get a bargain on ship space that has passed its prime, the source said. And, as the need for additional beds for detainees could only exist on a short-term basis, having a contract that creates more jail space for illegal immigrants will prove less costly than having to build new jails, the source said.
Cruise ships? If my memory serves me correctly, didn’t that not work out so well the last time around?
On Sept. 1, as tens of thousands of desperate Louisianans packed the New Orleans Superdome and convention center, the Federal Emergency Management Agency pleaded with the U.S. Military Sealift Command: The government needed 10,000 berths on full-service cruise ships, FEMA said, and it needed the deal done by noon the next day.
The hasty appeal yielded one of the most controversial contracts of the Hurricane Katrina relief operation, a $236 million agreement with Carnival Cruise Lines for three ships that now bob more than half empty in the Mississippi River and Mobile Bay. The six-month contract — staunchly defended by Carnival but castigated by politicians from both parties — has come to exemplify the cost of haste that followed Katrina’s strike and FEMA’s lack of preparation.
CBP and ICE do have an important challenge in dealing with the growing demand for detention and removal operations. But there must be a better option than leasing cruise ships again.