There is something incredibly vile about for–profit prison companies and their quarterly shareholder reports lauding earnings from government quotas to fill prisons with undocumented immigrants. It is especially disheartening that these companies are thriving thanks to President Donald Trump’s malicious crackdown on undocumented immigrants across the country.
A disturbing report in the Houston Chronicle this weekend highlights how for–profit
prison companies GEO Group and CoreCivic are directly benefiting from the
Trump administration’s focus on boosting arrests of undocumented immigrants in
the country’s interior as border arrests begin to decline. Trump’s earlier
claims that immigration officials would focus only on rounding up hardened
criminals and gang members is a complete lie.
The newspaper reported that the stock values of both
companies have doubled since Trump’s election, and “no company is earning more
from the detention boom than GEO, based in Boca Raton, Fla., which lists ICE as
its number one customer.”
From January to March, the number of immigrants locked up at
180 privately run detention facilities across the country increased by 10% over
the same period in 2016, totaling nearly 114,000 people, the newspaper
GEO Group is about to do even more business with U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It acquired the smaller for–profit prison
company CEC, which boosted total revenues by a quarter of a billion dollars.
Revenues last year at both GEO and CoreCivic surpassed $2 billion.
In May, GEO secured its first contract to expand and operate
an ICE detention center under Trump, the Joe Corley Detention Center in
Conroe, TX, in a deal that is worth a staggering $400 million.
According to the Chronicle:
The company contributed substantially to Trump’s election campaign and to his inauguration. It also faces accusations that it illegally contributed $225,000 through one of its subsidiaries to a pro-Trump super PAC called Rebuilding America Now, despite a ban on federal contractor cash, according to a complaint pending with the Federal Elections Commission that was filed by the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center. The Campaign Legal Center has alleged in a related Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that it believes that GEO Group may already have profited from its illegal donation through new business.
In a first quarter report for 2017, GEO noted that its net
income—over $40 million—had jumped by 25% over the same period last year. Business
is definitely booming for this industry—which President Barack Obama moved to
shut down before leaving office—and GEO Group is the top beneficiary under Trump.
The newspaper also notes that Trump’s proposed 2018 budget
keeps those nefarious quotas in place in nearly all of the country’s biggest
for–profit ICE detention centers. It’s a pretty simple formula: ICE has quotas
it must meet to detain undocumented immigrants and fill beds at privately run
detention centers. The contracts guarantee these companies that beds will be
filled, and if they aren’t, taxpayers still have to subsidize the companies’
bottom lines, benefitting shareholders.
The Chronicle described
it like this: “In its 2017 quarterly report, GEO itself identified quotas,
described as its ‘ability to sustain company-wide occupancy rates at its facilities,’
as a major factor in its ability to turn a profit.”
This apparently now is even influencing judges in Texas, who
are increasingly denying bond for immigrants seeking asylum, even though they
pose absolutely no threat. And it all boils down to money. In just one case
described by the newspaper, a 22–year–old woman from El Salvador who fled
threats from those who murdered her father, spent months in federal detention
in Conroe, when she easily could have been released pending a ruling on her
case. That cost taxpayers $25,000.
But the immigrants and their families are the ones paying the
greatest price for this type of capitalist cruelty, all designed to boost
quarterly profits and provide good news to unscrupulous shareholders.