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DHS for profit Prison plans for immigrants
In a letter to DHS Inspector General John Roth requesting an examination of the contract, Grijalva praised the department for launching a program aimed at finding alternatives to lock-down detention facilities for immigrant families.
"[B]ut I am dismayed," he added, "that this contract was awarded to one of the same for-profit prison companies that has been detaining women and children in horrific conditions for financial gain."
"Given the numerous allegations of mistreatment in facilities run by private prison companies, it is inconceivable that the same entities will continue profiting off women and children seeking refuge in the United States," he wrote to Roth.
Unveiled last week, the DHS pilot program aims to shift illegal immigrant families from detention centers into less restrictive environments, where they'll be monitored by case workers charged with helping them find housing, secure transportation and comply with immigration law as their cases move through the system.
The agency has come under intense criticism for maintaining the detention centers since last summer, when the DHS expanded the facilities to accommodate a surge of immigrants, many of them families and unaccompanied children, arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border to escape violence in Central America.
Human rights activists and many Democrats contend the centers are both illegal and inhumane, creating prison-like conditions that risk physical and mental harm to the detainees.
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has acknowledged failures in the system, vowing to improve conditions this year. But the agency has fought the notion that the facilities should be closed altogether, arguing that they're needed to discourage future migration and ensure the detainees comply with the law.
What’s a Little Detention, Without Due Process?
A federal judge in California disagreed, ordering the centers closed before the end of next month, a decision the Justice Department has appealed.
The new pilot program appears designed to begin shifting immigrants out of detention centers without shuttering them altogether.
In announcing the program last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said the initiative will tap the expertise of local case workers "to ensure participants comply with immigration obligations while providing access to holistic community based services tailored to the individual families’ needs."
The program will serve up to 1,500 families, split between five chosen metropolitan areas around the country, including New York, Los Angeles, Washington, Miami and Chicago.
"ICE recognizes the expertise and experience of community-based immigration assistance organizations which have a long history of assisting recently arriving populations," the agency said in a release.
Grijalva has his doubts. The Arizona Republican said Geo Group's track record is blemished and wondered why the administration would pick a prison corporation over experts more focused on case management under less restrictive conditions.
“GEO Group’s rap sheet of violations is long and well documented," Grijalva said Wednesday in a statement. "It’s hard to fathom how anyone would think that the same company neglecting the needs of women and children inside its detention facilities would behave any differently to women and children outside of them."
Prison Inc.: Immigration busts a boon for America's biggest private lockup
By Aimee Picchi CBS
When it comes to companies that are set to profit from President Donald Trump’s policies, here’s a clear winner: private prison operator CoreCivic (CXW).
The Nashville, Tennessee-based company has experienced almost a complete turnabout since Mr. Trump emerged victorious in the November election. Before voters cast their ballots, CoreCivic was having a rough year. Its stock had plunged by almost 50 percent from January 1, 2016 through Election Day. In August, the Justice Department said it would stop using private prisons, representing a hit to CoreCivic’s operations.
Yet just a few months later, CoreCivic’s fortunes have reversed, thanks largely to the election of President Trump and his directives to crack down on illegal immigrants. Since Mr. Trump’s victory, its shares have more than doubled, far outpacing the 9 percent gain in the S&P 500. Analysts now expect the company to have a strong 2017, with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Tobey Sommer describing it among one of his best investment picks for the year.
“It’s gone from a risk of seeing business go away to a chance for the company to grow,” Sommer said. “Because they have a lot of idle beds, they have an opportunity to sign new contracts and generate new profits.”
CoreCivic may not be a familiar name, which in part may be due to its rebranding push in October. Previously known as Corrections Corporation of America, it changed its name to CoreCivic to reflect its shift from a corrections-focused company to providing a “wider range of government solutions,” CEO Damon Hininger said in a statement.
For instance, CoreCivic is investing in reentry programs, which help former inmates transition out of prisons and into the workforce, as well as in real estate.
CoreCivic declined an interview but in a statement said it offers services “to governments led by elected officials from across the political and ideological spectrum.”
Yet key to its near-term turnabout is President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigrants. Mr. Trump has ordered the hiring of thousands of additional border patrol agents and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) workers as part of his vow to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants.
In a February 9 call with analysts to discuss CoreCivic’s latest earnings, Hininger credited the company’s fourth-quarter growth largely to what he called ICE’s “heightened utilization” of its services in Southwestern states. He also specifically cited Mr. Trump’s immigration policy, saying it will drive demand for the company’s detention facilities.
Carl Takei, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, said while investors stand to profit, they shouldn’t lose sight of what he calls the moral issues wrapped up with the private prison industry.
A September ACLU report alleged that privately operated detention facilities “have a particularly grisly track record” because they have incentives to cut costs and boost shareholder return, such as by reducing medical staffing. The report cited alleged cases of violence, suicide and sexual assault.
Some students at universities such as Princeton are pushing their colleges to divest from private prison companies, which could make the industry the latest to be targeted by the student divestment movement. In recent years, college students have pushed their campus administrators to rethink investments in stocks that they perceive as contributing to environmental or social harm, such as oil and tobacco companies.
“The contracts make it clear that this is about commodifying human beings,” the ACLU’s Takei said. “The government specifies they will deliver a certain number of units to the private prisons. The units in this context are human beings.”