He was sent to the facility after ICE stopped him at Miami International Airport as he was returning from a visit to Colombia, his native country.
Though he had been in the U.S. since 2007 on a conditional green card that he obtained through marriage to an American, he was judged "inadmissible" because of a July 2011 arrest in Hialeah for marijuana possession — his only brush with the law.
Castaneda was held at BTC until lawyers he hired persuaded a judge to reopen the marijuana case, and the state dropped the charges.
Many other detained immigrants, Castaneda said, also pose no threat to the public.
He said one man was held at BTC after he couldn't produce identification to buy a pack of cigarettes, raising the suspicions of a government agent in line next to him.
Another was arrested for misusing 911 by repeatedly calling about a neighbor's alleged threats.
Still another, Dante Sosa, 31, of Argentina, was painting the interior of a Hollywood house when someone summoned police, alleging that he had stolen something. Police made no arrest for theft but contacted immigration authorities, and Sosa was confined for three months at BTC before a lawyer secured his release on $3,000 bond.
Sosa, who has no criminal history, is now pursuing legal residency. Castaneda no longer faces deportation.
ICE holds that though its current priority is on removing foreign-born felons and terrorists, it has the power to expel anyone who is in the country without the proper authority, regardless of whether they have a criminal background or not.
Moore stressed that people are not detained or deported for traffic violations or other minor infractions, but because they have violated U.S. immigration laws, re-entered the country without permission or "gamed" the immigration system through fraud or misrepresentation. Those are civil, not criminal offenses.
BTC, Moore said, "is not a punitive place. ... It's not designed to be a prison or a county jail." People are held, the ICE official said, only "to affect a removal."
$1 a day
Detainees, some of whom have been confined for a year or more, see it differently.
"It's a jail! You wear orange!" Castaneda said.
Men wear uniforms of orange sweat pants and shirts, the women, gray.
Detainees sleep six to a room, in bunk beds, with a shared bath. There's a TV and table and chairs, but no refrigerator or microwave. Computers in the law library connect only to Lexis-Nexis, a legal service to retrieve court records. Detainees can use a pay phone to call loved ones or others.
Though the exits are guarded, detainees have access to an outdoor courtyard with picnic tables, a basketball court, volleyball played on a sandy area, and exercise machines.
To occupy their time, they can volunteer to work. They cook, clean, tend to the grounds and perform other tasks.
In return they are paid $1 a day by GEO.
Interest in GEO and its role in housing suspected illegal immigrants is so great that an Arab news channel, Al-Jazeera, featured BTC in a March documentary titled: "Punishment and Profit: Immigration Detention."