Access Denied

As a part of our class on the architecture of immigrant detention centers I called the South Texas Detention Facility in Pearsall to request a tour. After several attempts to reach the right person, and waiting on hold for approximately 10 minutes, I was told: “we don’t give tours.” No. And why would they? ICE contracts the management of The South Texas Detention Facility to a private corporation, GEO Group, Inc. As a private corporation they do not need to accommodate the public. And yet, they are paid, in part, by ICE—they are financed by public monies to facilitate an “administrative” duty, the processing of immigration. Since I failed to secure a tour through Geo Group, I filed a Freedom of Information Act request for any architectural plans or schematic drawings of the facility so that my class could analyze the spaces of the center. My request was denied. How is it that citizens cannot access, cannot see, how our government manages the detention of migrants? Why don’t we—U.S. citizens—have the right to better understand the spaces of detention?