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Halliburton gets 'immigration emergency' contract as prosecutions skyrocket in its hometown
24 Jan. 2006

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (HalliburtonWatch.org) -- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded Halliburton's KBR subsidiary a $385 million contract to build "detention facilities" (prisons) for immigrants arrested on charges of entering the country illegally and to provide construction and logistics support services in the event of an "immigration emergency," Halliburton announced in a press release today.

The announcement comes at an opportune time for Halliburton since the Bush administration has accelerated the number of immigration arrests and prosecutions nationally, but most remarkably in the Houston area, where Halliburton is headquartered.

According to a study by Syracuse University, the number of immigration arrests and prosecutions in the Southern District of Texas, which includes Houston, is "literally off the chart" compared to areas with greater illegal migration problems. Immigration prosecutions spiked by 14,030 cases in the district between 2003 and 2004, a 345 percent increase.

The number of immigration prosecutions is dramatically skewed in favor of Halliburton's hometown in Texas even though over half of the 1.1 million people entering the United States illegally in 2004 crossed the border through Arizona.

The Bush administration has been criticized for doling out DHS contracts based on politics and cronyism rather than need. For example, sea ports in New York and New Jersey handle 12 percent of the nation's cargo but receive barely one percent of DHS funds for protection against terrorism and other emergencies.

"The sheer volume of DHS immigration referrals in Texas South (Houston) in FY 2004 (18,092) tower over the totals racked up by the four other districts along the Mexican border in the same year," the Syracuse study said, adding that prosecutions in Texas West, Arizona and California South "increased at a far slower pace." In New Mexico, prosecutions actually declined.

Additionally, 21,000 individuals were prosecuted in the Texas South district in 2004, 18,340 of whom were charged with immigration violations. By comparison, the district only prosecuted 90 white collar crime matters.

�We are especially gratified to be awarded this contract because it builds on our extremely strong track record in the arena of emergency operations support,� Bruce Stanski, executive vice president of KBR's Government and Infrastructure division, said in response to the DHS contract award. �We look forward to continuing the good work we have been doing to support our customer [the DHS] whenever and wherever we are needed.�

Under the contract, KBR will build temporary detention facilities for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a department of the DHS, "to augment existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) Program facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S.," the company's press release said.

The contract requires KBR to provide logistics support to operate one or more of the detention facilities if required. KBR will also perform emergency repair and construction services for ICE in the event of a natural disaster.

The five-year contract, consisting of a one-year base period and four one-year options, was awarded to KBR via competitive bidding and will be executed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District. The contract takes effect immediately.

KBR held the previous ICE contract from 2000 through 2005.

ICE is one of three agencies that make up the Border and Transportation Security (BTS) Directorate of the DHS. The mission of the BTS Directorate is to secure the nation's air, land and sea borders. ICE, the largest investigative arm of the DHS, is responsible for identifying and shutting down vulnerabilities in the nation�s border, economic, transportation and infrastructure security.

(Update: The Associated Press reported that, while the contract was awarded to KBR via "competitive" bidding, KBR was the only contractor who submitted a bid. The company obtained nearly $6 million from the contract between 2000 and 2005.)

More Information:

Jim Hightower: Who is to be "detained?"