Friday, May 5, 2017

USA: Private Prison Company Is Getting Rich Off Donald Trump’s Immigration Crackdown


Beyond being politically connected, GEO Group is controversial. Immigrants’ rights groups have long criticized it and its biggest American counterpart, CoreCivic, for the way they treat detainees.

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | UK Desk
Source/Credit: The Daily Beast
By Betsy Woodruff | May 2, 2017

Beyond being politically connected, GEO Group is controversial.

A private prison company currently being sued for human trafficking expects to handle one quarter of President Donald Trump’s immigrant detention.

The company, GEO Group, contracts with governments around the world to incarcerate 100,000 people, and its top executives expressed optimism on a public shareholder call on Tuesday about how Trump’s immigration crackdown will impact their business. It’s indicative of a cultural overhaul taking place under the Trump administration—where well-connected multi-national corporations are poised to see significant financial gains because of tougher immigration law enforcement.

GEO Group has close ties to Trump’s political circles. The company gave $250,000 to Trump’s inauguration, according to USA Today. A subsidiary of the company gave $225,000 to a super PAC helmed by the Mercer family. And Rebekah Mercer, hedge fund manager Robert Mercer’s daughter, is widely reported to be one of the most influential donors in Trump’s circle. And last October, the company retained two former aides to now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to lobby the federal government on prison contracts, as Politico reported.

Beyond being politically connected, GEO Group is controversial. Immigrants’ rights groups have long criticized it and its biggest American counterpart, CoreCivic, for the way they treat detainees. And in February, a federal judge ruled that former detainees at one GEO immigrant detention center could direct a class-action lawsuit at the company for forcing them to work for little or no wages—which they allege violates the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. GEO strongly denies those allegations.

On the call, executives noted that Trump’s executive orders on immigration enforcement and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent announcement on prosecuting undocumented immigrants more forcefully will mean more arrests, more detention and, thus, more demand for their services—which their CEO, George Zoley, said were “culturally responsive environments.”

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