Lobbying

Apr 28, 2015
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City Watch LA

Jailhouse Shock: U.S. Fattens Profits of Private Immigrant Prisons

According to a new report from Grassroots Leadership, the two largest private prison companies in the U.S. now run 70 percent of the ICE Detention System and are working hard to expand that share. 

The report, Payoff: How Congress Ensures Private Prison Profit with an Immigrant Detention Quota, written by Bethany Carson and Eleana Diaz, also debunks a major piece of misinformation from the industry. Officials from CCA and GEO Group often claim they don’t lobby on issues that affect populations, but the report shows how much both corporations have invested lobbying relevant committees in Congress on immigration and detention issues that pad their bottom line.  [node:read-more:link]

Apr 28, 2015
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The Washington Post PostEverything

How for-profit prisons have become the biggest lobby no one is talking about

There’s even a lockup quota at the federal level: The Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention budget includes a mandate from Congress that at least 34,000 immigrants remain detained on a daily basis, a quota that has steadily grown each year, even as the undocumented immigrant population in the United States has leveled off. Private prisons have profited handsomely from that policy, owning nine of the 10 largest ICE detention centers, according to a report released this month by Grassroots Leadership.

With the growing influence of the prison lobby, the nation is, in effect, commoditizing human bodies for an industry in militant pursuit of profit. [node:read-more:link]

Apr 21, 2015
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Fox News Latino

Study: Private prison firms spend millions to ensure steady supply of undocumented immigrants

Private prisons that have contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, spent millions of dollars lobbying Congress to keep a steady population of 34,000 migrants detained at all times, a study by the Austin, Texas-based Grassroots Leadership group found.

Grassroots Leadership researched detention conditions across the country and concluded that nine of the 10 facilities used by the Department of Homeland Security to house undocumented immigrants were private, and eight of them were owned by two corporations that have posted record profits since 2009. [node:read-more:link]

Apr 20, 2015
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The Texas Observer

ICE Director to U.S. Rep. Culberson: We Can’t Just Put People in Detention for ‘the Heck of it’

In Congress, Geo Group, Corrections Corporation of America and other private prison companies spend millions on lobbying. Much of that lobbying is focused on powerful members of the appropriations committee like Culberson, who received campaign contributions from CCA, which runs detention facilities including Dilley’s controversial South Texas Residential Center, which detains women and children.

A new study by the nonprofit Grassroots Leadership finds that the private prison industry has increased its share of immigrant detention beds by 13 percent since the 2009 quota was passed. For-profit corporations now operate sixty-two percent of ICE immigration detention beds.

At one point during the U.S. House Appropriations Committee hearing last week, Saldaña tries to explain to the tea-partier Culberson that she can’t put people in detention “just for the heck of it.” [node:read-more:link]

Apr 19, 2015
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RawStory

Asylum-seeking mothers launch hunger strike over inhumane conditions at Texas detention center

Detained asylum-seeking mothers at a for-profit detention center in Texas have gone on a hunger strike seeking their release, Freedom Speech Radio News reports.

The women, many of whom fled their countries in Central America  out of fear of violence or persecution, have all passed the “credible fear test” and qualify as asylum seekers. Despite that, they are still held with their children — some as young as 2 years old — in the Karnes Residential Center, a prison-like facility in South Texas, waiting for their cases to be processed.

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According to a new report from the Grassroots Leadership, private for-profit prison corporations spent $11 million over six years to lobby Congress to keep a mandatory immigrant detention quota.

Today, 9 out of the 10 largest immigrant detention centers are private, with 8 owned by only two corporations, the GED Group and CCA. Since the end of 2007, the GEO Group has increased their profits by 244% and CCA by 46%. [node:read-more:link]

Apr 19, 2015
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International Business Times

Report: Private Prison Lobbyists Spend Millions To Keep Immigrants Locked Up

A report released last week by Grassroots Leadership, a Texas non-profit, details how private prison companies have spent five years lobbying the government, not only to maintain the quota, but to enact conservative immigration reform that would continue to ensure a steady flow of inmates into its detention centers.

“Payoff: How Congress Ensures Private Prison Profit with an Immigrant Detention,” says 62 percent of all ICE detention beds now are operated by for-profit prison companies. In fact, nine out of the 10 largest immigrant detention camps are private, with eight owned by only two corporations -- Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group. Those two corporations reaped about $500 million in 2014 alone.

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“The immigrant detention quota continues to be a prime example of how money and political gain can drive policy decisions," the report notes. "Those harmed by the immigrant detention quota have far less power and money: immigrants, their families, and the average American taxpayer." [node:read-more:link]

Apr 16, 2015
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Common Dreams

'Profiting From Misery': Private Prison Corporations Driving Harsh Immigration Policies

Private prison companies are spending millions of dollars to lobby the U.S. government for harsher immigration laws that, in turn, spike corporate profits by driving up incarceration levels, a new report from the national social justice organization Grassroots Leadership reveals.

Entitled Payoff: How Congress Ensures Private Prison Profit with an Immigrant Detention Quota, the report's release on Wednesday coincided with a renewed hunger strike at a privately-run immigrant detention center in southern Texas, where asylum-seeking mothers incarcerated with their children report inhumane conditions, including sexual assaults by prison guards and staff.

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Report coauthor Bethany Carson declared in a press statement, "The immigrant detention quota is taxpayer-financed insurance for private prison corporations that the government will maintain their bottom line at all costs. Now, we are seeing those same corporations invest millions in the Congressional committee that created that insurance policy for them."

Carson added, "Congress’s vast immigrant detention system is tearing apart families and communities, and creating an enormous profit from human misery." [node:read-more:link]

Apr 16, 2015
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The Dallas Observer

Arresting Illegal Immigrants in Texas Is Making Private Prisons Companies Rich

No detention center has bigger plans for illegal immigrants than the South Texas Family Center in Dilley. The center is run by the for-profit Corrections Corporation of America and is under expansion. By May 2015, the facility will be able to hold 2,400 people. "If this expansion proceeds, Dilley will be the largest immigrant detention center in the U.S.," says a new report about the troubling role that private prison companies play in U.S. immigration policy. The report was published by Grassroots Leadership, an advocacy group that is critical of the industry.

Using government and financial records and news articles, the Grassroots report details how two companies -- Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group -- have benefited from locking up illegal immigrants, and how the South Texas border surge in arrests has been especially profitable to the CCA and GEO Group. Texas has 7,602 private beds for the immigrant detainees, Grassroots Leadership found, a figure that represents 39 percent of all private prison beds in the whole country.

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But the Grassroots report raises a bigger argument, that it's probably not a good idea to let our immigration policies be influenced by a few companies with something to gain. [node:read-more:link]

Apr 15, 2015
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Huffington Post

Bed Quota Fuels 'Inhumane' And 'Unnecessary' Immigrant Detention: Report

The private prison industry’s growing role in immigrant detention is due in part to Congress' requiring the federal government to maintain some 34,000 detention beds, according to a report released Wednesday.

The report, drafted by Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit based in Austin, Texas, calls on Congress to eliminate the immigrant detention quota from its 2016 appropriations request.

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Bethany Carson, a co-author of the study who spoke on the call, said the detention bed quota is “inhumane” and “unnecessary.” The Grassroots report urges policymakers to reduce the number of required detention beds through “community-based” alternatives to detention. The report does not describe those alternatives in detail, but Grassroots has in the past endorsed programs in which immigration authorities partner with non-governmental organizations to ensure that released migrants comply with court proceedings and find access to community services.

“The only beneficiaries from the detention quota are for-profit corporations that benefit from human pain,” Carson told reporters [node:read-more:link]

Key takeaways from new report on private prison payoff from the immigrant detention quota

A new Grassroots Leadership report released today, Payoff: How Congress Ensures Private Prison Profit with an Immigrant Detention Quota, documents connections between the rise of for-profit detention of immigrants and increased lobbying to the DHS Appropriations Subcommittee in Congress, which is responsible for the 'bed quota' or mandated minimum number of immigrants to be detained at any given time. This mandatory minimum for detentions has resulted in record profits for private prison corporations since 2009. 

[node:read-more:link]

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