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“For-Profit Prison Bosses Bankroll Rubio”: Making Money Keeping Undocumented Immigrants Behind Bars

The GEO Group—a shady, for-profit prison company—has invested more heavily in Marco Rubio for years and his presidential campaign is no exception.

This past spring, the organization gave Rubio super PAC Conservative Solutions a fat check for $100,000, a massive donation dwarfs the prison organization’s prior contributions to the freshman Senator.

The donation also ups the ante of already well-established support for Rubio, empowering the Rubio super PAC to boost the senator’s candidacy for the White House.

When challenged about his donors by the press or on the campaign trail,  Rubio often says that contributors are buying into his agenda, not the other way around. But since the failure of the Gang of Eight immigration reform package, it is worth noting that Rubio has to an enforcement-first, border security approach—which, consciously or not, would benefit private prison organizations like GEO Group.

Rubio isn’t the only presidential candidate to benefit from the GEO Group’s political largess: the organization also gave $100,000 to Jeb Bush’s super PAC, for example, around the time of the Rubio contribution. Bush wrote in the mid-90s about the need for more for-profit prisons.

But Rubio’s close ties with the prison company are unique, and GEO’s historical support for Rubio is substantially greater than that for Bush.

Before the most recent six-figure contribution, Rubio had received nearly $40,000 in campaign funds from GEO, making him the number one Senate recipient of the group’s political donations. And Rubio’s first Senate chief of staff, Cesar Conda, is a founder of what has become GEO’s main lobbying firm, Navigators Global. Navigators Global’s employees have also been frequent contributors to Rubio’s political efforts.

The Rubio campaign told The Daily Beast that it didn’t comment on outside groups. A spokesman for Conservative Solutions declined to comment.

The GEO Group did well when Rubio was speaker, having been awarded a $110 million state government contract right after Rubio hired a consultant who had been a trustee for a GEO real estate trust.

Rubio voluntarily disclosed in 2008 that he had raised $50,000 from GEO Group for organizations that he was involved with.

The private prison company is naturally controversial since the Florida-based group makes its money in part by detaining undocumented immigrants—in total, it runs 64 prison facilities in the United States, with a total of 71,973 beds.

If the federal government further enhances border enforcement, as many Republicans are calling for it to do, it stands to profit from holding foreigners who have violated the law.

GEO Group, the nation’s second-largest private prison company, holds as its largest client the Federal Bureau of Prisons. And business has been good: between 2000 and 2012, net income jumped from $16.9 million to $78.6 million, in part due to federal government efforts to charge those who cross the border illegally.

The GEO Group has lobbied to increase the number of mandatory immigration detention spots, having already benefited from Congress’ requirement that the feds maintain approximately 34,000 detention beds.

They’ve been accused of mistreating undocumented immigrants, including providing insufficient medical care and even allegations of sexual assault against its guards (a subsequent Department of Homeland Security investigation found no evidence to support the assault allegations).

And as The Daily Beast reported, GEO Group is dealing with a lawsuit from former detainees, who have accused the prison group of engaging in human trafficking to increase its profits.

The GEO Group, for its part, said that it does not “take a position or advocate for any specific criminal justice or immigration policy,” but that like many other corporations “participates in the political process.”

“Our company’s political and lobbying activities focus entirely on promoting the use of public-private partnerships across correctional and detention services and in the delivery of offender rehabilitation and community reentry programs, and they do not entail any advocacy either for or against criminal justice or immigration policies,” a company spokesman said. “Over the last 30 years, our company has made significant investments in the development of evidence-based offender rehabilitation and community reentry programs aimed at reducing recidivism and helping the men and women in our care reintegrate into society.”


By: Tim Mak, The Daily Beast, December 23, 2015

December 25, 2015 Posted by | For Profit Prisons, Marco Rubio, Undocumented Immigrants | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Who Are We, Anyway?”: A Moral Issue Of How We Choose To Define Ourselves As A Country

Something extraordinary is happening at our southern border. Thousands of children, most unaccompanied by adult relatives, are crossing from Mexico and immediately turning themselves in to the Border Patrol. They come principally from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

What must be going on in those countries that impels their most precious legacy, their children, to make such a journey? What are we, as a nation, going to do about it?

Reports from Central America center on two issues: poverty and gang violence. Poverty in that region is not new, nor has it ever been the stimulus for a mass migration of children. Gang violence has increased, driven in part by the trade in illegal drugs and perhaps by some success in Mexico in confronting drug gangs.

The more important question is what we’re going to do about it? Texas Governor Perry advocates a military response, perhaps by the National Guard. What exactly does he anticipate that the National Guard would do? Are they supposed to shoot at children as they cross a bridge or a river? Doesn’t sound right to me.

The Administration’s response to the problem is financial and legal. Appropriate 3.7 billion dollars to house these children until their cases can be heard by a (hopefully more efficient) adjudication process to determine whether each child is legitimately a refugee. But there aren’t lawyers to represent most of these children, so the legal process is likely to be a farce.

Some in Congress want to change the applicable laws to make it easier to expel these children without a legal process. I suppose such a course might relieve the government of some costs, but does such a policy square with our values?

The arrival of large numbers of children on our doorstep is not a physical menace to us. Nor is it an unsustainable financial burden. It is not a legal or bureaucratic matter either. Instead, it is a moral issue of how we choose to define ourselves as a country.

We need to move these children out of mass holding pens and into homes of people who will care for them and raise them. Then we can let the legal process grind away.


By: Joseph B. Kadane, Leonard J. Savage University Professor of Statistics and Social Sciences, Emeritus, at Carnegie Mellon University; The Huffington Post Blog, July 17, 2014

July 18, 2014 Posted by | Border Crisis, Immigration Reform, Poverty | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Bigoted Republican Two-Step”: The GOP’s Ridiculous Executive-Authority Hypocrisy

Speaker of the House John Boehner wants to sue President Obama. Former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin wants to impeach President Obama. And Republicans across the board are in a froth over the president’s allegedly aggressive use of executive authority.

And yet, there are some issues that have so discombobulated Republicans that they are turning their lonely eyes to Obama for answers: Namely, the influx of Central American child migrants on America’s southern border. Faced with the unappealing prospect of using their own congressional power of the purse to solve the problem, Republicans are reacquainting themselves with the allure of executive power.

The current border crisis is the result of Obama following a law signed in 2008 by President George W. Bush and designed to save children from human trafficking. The law created different rules for children hailing from nations contiguous to America — Mexico and Canada — and children from elsewhere. For children coming from the two contiguous nations, Border Patrol agents can use their discretion to quickly send them home to their families. But since repatriation is more logistically complicated for children coming from farther away, the law requires the Department of Health and Human Services to provide housing and care as well as the guidance to seek legal counsel, which generally puts them on a path for a formal judicial review.

Speaker Boehner has now proposed changing that law, saying last week, “I think we all agree that the non-contiguous countries, that now we’re required to hold those people, I think clearly, we would probably want the language similar to what we have with Mexico.” But to apply the language we have with Mexico to Central American child migrants, you’d have to empower Obama’s Border Patrol agents — and effectively, Obama — to decide if those children must go back.

While Boehner wants to pass new legislation expanding Obama’s executive power, other Republicans just want Obama to assert his Oval Office authority without action by Congress. On Fox News Sunday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry repeatedly shrugged off the stipulations of the 2008 law and suggested Obama solve the problem on his own by deploying the National Guard to block entry at the border. Fox’s Brit Hume incredulously responded, “Are they really going to be deterred by the presence of troops along the border who won’t shoot them and can’t arrest them?”

House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers said on Meet The Press that Obama “has tools in his toolbox that he can use immediately to stop this,” citing Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s interpretation of the 2008 law which she co-authored. What Rogers chose not to highlight on national television is that Feinstein says Obama has the power to modify how the law is being implemented by directing the Department of Homeland Security to write new regulations — exactly the type of action that has prompted all the Republican talk of lawsuits and impeachment on other issues.

This may seem like your standard-issue Washington hypocrisy: Shake your fist against presidential power when you don’t like what the president is doing, and then pound your fist to demand presidential action to shift focus away from your reluctance to take any responsibility for governing the country.

But the Republican two-step is about more than hypocrisy. Their sudden renewed attraction to executive power lays bare how empty their excuses are for burying comprehensive immigration reform.

If Republicans really believe Obama is too slippery to trust with any legal directives to “secure the border,” they would be pushing for laws that tie his hands, such as mandatory deportations without judicial review and mandatory increases of National Guard or Border Patrol troops on the border.

They’re not, because deep down Republicans know their talking points about a lawless, trustless president are bunk. And the only thing stopping Republicans from passing comprehensive immigration reform is the fear of losing votes from anti-immigrant bigots. Any other excuse has been rendered inoperative.


By: Bill Scher, The Week, July 16, 2014

July 18, 2014 Posted by | Border Crisis, Executive Orders, GOP | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Legitimate Refugees Should Not Be Deported”: The Children Deserve Their Deportation Hearings

The politics surrounding the surge of migrant children at our Southern border are predictable: Republicans blast President Obama; Obama asks Congress for more money to deal with the problem; immigration advocates insist on fewer deportations.

But in the middle of that clichéd drama are gut-wrenching stories about children — including some who are quite young — undertaking a dangerous, lonely journey either alone or in the company of unreliable strangers. It’s hard to fathom.

How awful must conditions be at home for impoverished parents to pay $6,000 for criminal smugglers to take a seven- or eight-year-old child hundreds of miles away? How desperate must a young child be to get on the road alone to try to find Mom and Dad in another country?

News accounts tell those pitiful stories. Ten-year-old Angel and his 7-year-old sister, Dulce, longed to join their parents in the Los Angeles area. They traveled by bus with relatives from Chimaltenango, Guatemala, to the Rio Grande, but their adult kin left them to cross the river with other youngsters.

A 14-year-old boy from Honduras said that his parents were dead and he was hoping to find an aunt in New Orleans. Then there was 11-year-old Nodwin, who said he left Honduras by himself — nearly drowning in the Rio Grande — to get away from criminal gangs, which enforce their rule through torture and rape.

The United States, which thinks of itself as exceptional and indispensable, has an obligation to do what it can to help these children, whose plight has rightly been termed a humanitarian crisis. We can do better than immediate deportations.

In fact, a law intended to curb human trafficking that was passed during the administration of George W. Bush mandates that those children be given deportation hearings to consider their requests for refugee status. Meanwhile, they must be given food, shelter and reasonable accommodations. (Under the same law, unaccompanied minors from contiguous countries, Canada and Mexico, are immediately turned back if they are caught.)

The law may well have contributed to the stunning surge of children — some of them as young as kindergarteners — trying to enter the country illegally. More than 50,000 children have tried to enter the U.S. in the last eight months, officials say. In Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, the three countries that account for most of the refugees, the law has apparently been misinterpreted by parents and children as a policy of broad leniency toward undocumented minors.

In addition to that misunderstanding, kids are propelled by poverty and violence. Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world; Guatemala, the fifth highest. Who could blame them for trying to escape that?

But the crush of refugees has created a political embarrassment for President Obama. In a futile effort to garner GOP support for comprehensive immigration reform, the president has pursued a tough deportation policy toward adults, ensnaring not just felons, but also some undocumented workers who committed minor traffic offenses. The policy hasn’t won over GOP critics, but it has alienated some of Obama’s Latino supporters.

With midterm elections approaching, Republicans are using the refugee crisis as a sledgehammer, insisting the president has broken the law. Sarah Palin has gone so far as to call for Obama’s impeachment. None of the president’s critics acknowledge that he is following a law that several of them supported just a few years ago.

Under the searing pressure, Obama has called for billions to pay for more guards, drones and detention facilities; he has also suggested that he would support a change in the law that would quicken the deportation of unaccompanied minors.

That’s a mistake. The United States cannot solve Central America’s problems of poverty and violence, nor can it take tens of thousands of undocumented children. But it can take those who would qualify for legitimate refugee status.

The children deserve their deportation hearings, and the president should stand steadfast to make sure they get them.


By: Cynthia Tucker, The National Memo, July 12, 2014

July 15, 2014 Posted by | Border Crisis, Deportation, Immigration Reform | , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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