These days, it is becoming more and more common to see the privatization of tasks that used to belong solely to the government. Private security contractors have already been utilized in Iraq, and now the newest venture companies are undertaking is immigration control.
Immigration issues are usually considered a state function, yet is becoming increasingly common to see matters being handled by private companies. Some companies have specifically made efforts to increase the transparency in their business by requiring performance reports and outside supervisors, however, the fact remains that they are often not held accountable for their actions the way the government would be.
Many companies fear that too much transparency could hurt them financially, as the private security market is quite lucrative. Some even go as far as to require their staff to sign confidentiality agreements, forbidding them to speak publically about anything they witness at work or about any company practices.
One of the world’s largest security companies, G4S, employs more than 650,000 employees worldwide. Their main tasks involve immigration control. They run detention centers in Britain, screen passengers in European airports, and in America, they run a fleet of buses for deporting immigrants back to Mexico. Only last month, they signed a contract with the UK Border Agency for $337 million to process asylum seekers.
What’s shocking about this is that G4S’s previous contract with the UK government was terminated, due to the death of a man as he was being deported. 3 private guards were escorting him on the flight home. Multiple other passengers on the plane reported that the guards held him down with his head between his knees even after he complained that he couldn’t breath. Before the plane could even take off, he lost consciousness and died.
The 3 guards who had custody of the man when he died, were immediately arrested. After numerous accusations against senior management concerning poor training and improper restraint techniques, a lawsuit against G4S as a company is only just being considered. Many are wondering whether the UK Border Agency should also be held responsible for their decision to outsource deportations.
Today, government outsourcing has created an industry that encompasses nearly every aspect of migration management in countries around the world. This shift comes at a price though; eliminating government accountability and forcing people to be subjected to the control of private corporations.
Should governments be allowed to contract out work like this? Should they be held accountable if something goes wrong?