USA: Govt. contractors accused of profiting from separation & detention of migrant & asylum seeking families

In May 2018, the Trump administration announced that it would increase prosecutions of migrants and asylum seekers crossing the US-Mexico border and implemented a “zero tolerance” policy intended to deter new migrants with the threat of jail sentences and by separating immigrant children from their parents. US Attorney Jeff Sessions stated “If you cross the southwest border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you... If you’re smuggling a child, then we’re going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you. If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally.”

At least 2,500 children have been separated from their parents at the U.S. border. Human rights organizations and activists, religious leaders, politicians, CEOs, company representatives and others strongly condemned the practice of separating children from their parents. The CEOs of Chobani, Apple, Uber, and others have expressed that the practice is inhumane and called for an end to family separation. (See more regarding CEO statements and company actions here.)

Following significant pressure, US President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order on June 20, 2018 ending the practice of separating families. However, parents will still be prosecuted and families will remain together in immigrant detention as their cases are being processed, raising significant concerns regarding indefinite detention. It is also unclear when and how families that have already been separated will be reunited. 

Human rights organizations and journalists have accused private prison operators CoreCivic and GEO Group and govt. contractors Comprehensive Health Services Inc., Dynamic Service Solutions, Dynamic Educational Systems, General Dynamics and MVM of financially profiting from family separation and detention. An online resource by Corrections Accountability Project, "Immigrant detention: An American business" also alleges that bank and investor financing for CoreCivic & GEO Group supports these two companies to profit from the Trump Administration's harsh immigration policies.

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited these companies, banks and investors to respond. Responses from BlackRock, BNP Paribas, CoreCivic, GEO Group, Comprehensive Health Services Inc, General Dynamics, MVM, Vanguard and Wells Fargo are available below. Bank of America, Dynamic Service Solutions, Dynamic Educational Systems and US Bank did not respond. JPMorgan Chase and SunTrust declined to respond.

Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) have also been accused profiting from the Trump administration's anti-immigrant crackdown and the detention of migrants and asylum seekers through contracts with ICE. The Resource Centre invited them to respond. A response from PricewaterhouseCoopers is included below; Booz Allen Hamilton and Deloitte did not respond.

Update (as of 13 July 2019): Bank of America, BNP Paribas, JPMorgan Chase, SunTrust, and Wells Fargo have decided to stop financing private prisons in the United States.

 

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Article
6 August 2019

Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte & PwC allegedly profiting from Trump administration's anti-immigrant practices; PwC responds

Author: popular.info

"Children are suffering. These companies are profiting." 1 July 2019

A review by Popular Information of federal contracting databases reveals that Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte, and PricewaterhouseCoopers have inked over $175 million in contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since Trump took office. These companies have continued to profit from Trump's anti-immigrant crackdown over the protests of many of their employees... [S]ince January 2017, Deloitte has inked over $100 million in contracts with ICE... [including] over $4 million in contracts which directly involved "detention compliance and removals."... In July 2018, hundreds of Deloitte employees signed a petition calling on the company to stop doing business with ICE, citing "moral objections" to the work... Since the employees sent management their petition, Deloitte has entered into an additional $44 million worth of contracts with ICE. 

... Since the start of the Trump administration, Booz Allen Hamilton has inked over $68 million in contracts with ICE, including over $33 million directly related to "detention compliance and removals." In July 2018, Booz Allen Hamilton defended its work with ICE, saying its work did not involve  "the separation of children from adults."... Since January 2017, PricewaterhouseCoopers has collected over $5 million in contracts with ICE, all of which directly related to "detention compliance and removals."

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Company non-response
6 August 2019

Deloitte did not respond to allegation it is profiting from Trump Administration's anti-immigrant practices

Company response
6 August 2019

Response from PwC re allegation it is profiting from Trump Administration's anti-immigrant practices

Author: PricewaterhouseCoopers

PwC divested its public sector business in 2018 and does not perform work for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Download the full document here

Company non-response
5 August 2019

Booz Allen Hamilton did not respond to allegation it is profiting from Trump Administration's anti-immigrant practices

Article
17 July 2019

US govt. contractor Nakamoto Group allegedly overlooked abuse at detention centers; incl. co. statement

Author: Yuki Noguchi, NPR

"'No Meaningful Oversight': ICE Contractor Overlooked Problems At Detention Centers", 17 July 2019

The Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General has repeatedly criticized [Nakamoto Group] for cutting corners on its investigations, conducting improper interviews, and producing inaccurate reports... ICE relies heavily on private industry in nearly every aspect of its operation. Outside contractors GEO Group and CoreCivic operate most of ICE's adult detention centers. For the last eight years, Nakamoto has been charged with conducting annual inspections of ICE detention centers... "It's really not an exaggeration to say that there is basically no meaningful accountability or oversight for the companies who are involved," says Heidi Altman, director of policy at the National Immigrant Justice Center... The DHS inspector general [said], "ICE does not adequately hold detention facility contractors accountable for not meeting performance standards... [ICE] spokeswoman Danielle Bennett says the agency has improved since the inspector general's reports... [including having] senior ICE officials now accompany Nakamoto investigators during their reviews... In an email, Nakamoto Vice President Mark Saunders said, "we have made it abundantly clear that we are in no way political, and we have no agenda other than to do our work." He declined an interview, saying the company has already addressed negative allegations.

Last fall, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats asked Nakamoto to respond to problems raised in the inspector general's reports. In her response, Jennifer Nakamoto quoted from her own company's report, calling the watchdog investigators inexperienced and their findings an "embarrassment" to their office. She disputes many of the facts in the reports. She wrote about her mother's birth in an internment camp, saying she and her family have battled prejudice all their lives. "Without question," she wrote, "the detained immigrant population as a whole has a better life because of what Nakamoto does."

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Article
13 July 2019

BNP Paribas plans to end financing of private prisons

Author: Phil Serafino, Bloomberg

BNP Paribas SA will no longer finance private prison companies, joining a wave of banks pulling out of the business amid criticism of the conditions in U.S. detention facilities. “This decision is the result of the bank’s internal and external consultative process that ensures that clients’ practices are aligned with the group’s policies,” BNP Paribas said Saturday in an emailed statement. “Today, BNP Paribas has a limited exposure to this sector and following its latest decision, the bank will no longer commit to new financing facilities within this sector.”... Protesters have pushed lenders to abandon private prison companies, citing conditions in facilities that have held immigrant families. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, has said she would ban private prisons if elected... JPMorgan Chase & Co., the biggest U.S. bank, said in March it would no longer provide financing for the industry and Bank of America Corp.followed suit last month. SunTrust Banks Inc., the lender merging with BB&T Corp., withdrew from the business last week.

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Article
10 July 2019

SunTrust is latest bank to halt financing of private prisons

Author: Lanahn Nguyen, Bloomberg

SunTrust Banks Inc., the lender merging with BB&T Corp., said it won’t provide future financing to companies that manage private prisons and immigration holding facilities. “This decision was made after extensive consideration of the views of our stakeholders on this deeply complex issue,” the Atlanta-based bank said... SunTrust’s decision follows similar moves by Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co.

... Shares of the two biggest for-profit prison companies, Geo Group Inc. and CoreCivic Inc., have fallen more than 13% since mid-June... “This decision is about caving to political pressure,” Amanda Gilchrist, a spokeswoman for CoreCivic, said in an emailed statement. “These banks have kowtowed to a small group of activists rather than engaging in a constructive dialogue.”... Geo Group said in a statement. The company “has never managed any facilities that house unaccompanied minors, nor have we ever managed border patrol holding facilities.”

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Article
5 July 2019

Canada pension fund divests from US migrant detention firms

Author: Tracey Lindeman, The Guardian

"Canada pension fund quietly divests from US migrant detention firms," 5 July 2019

One of Canada's biggest pension funds has... divested from two private prison operators responsible for the detention of thousands of migrants along the US-Mexico border... [T]he Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) held nearly US$8m in stock in Geo Group and CoreCivic, which between them hold the lion’s share of contracts to manage Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (Ice) detention facilities in the US. The CPPIB, which manages C$392bn (US$299bn) in pension funds on behalf of 20 million Canadians, did not make a public statement when it dropped the two companies from its list of foreign public equity holdings, but the change was spotted this week by the federal MP Charlie Angus, a member of the opposition New Democratic party... The NDP has tabled a bill, C-431, asking that the pension board abide by greater ethical standards. After the US migrant crisis began, advocacy groups SumOfUs and LeadNow collected more than 55,000 signatures on petitions calling for the CPPIB to drop Geo Group and CoreCivic from its investment portfolio... The CPPIB declined to comment.

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Article
26 June 2019

USA: Bank of America will stop lending to private-prison firms

Author: Lananh Nguyen, Bloomberg

Bank of America Corp., the second-biggest U.S. bank, will stop lending to companies that run private prisons and detention centers. “We have decided to exit the relationship’’ with companies that provide prison and immigration-detention services, Vice Chairman Anne Finucane said... The move followed a review by the bank’s environmental, social and governance... committee, which included site visits and consultation with clients, civil rights leaders, criminal justice experts and academics... The company will stop its activities in the industry as soon as it can, while meeting contractual obligations.

Shares of two of the largest private-prison companies, GEO Group Inc. and CoreCivic Inc., fell... Wednesday. Steve Owen, a CoreCivic spokesman, said Bank of America misrepresented the company and based its decision on politics. “We care deeply about doing business in an ethical, responsible way,” he said in an emailed statement... JPMorgan Chase & Co. took a similar step in March, breaking off its relationship with the industry after deciding it was too risky, and Wells Fargo & Co. is also halting loans to the industry... Protesters have been urging bank executives to back away from the business... While the companies run centers on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they’ve said they don’t operate facilities that house unaccompanied minors. 

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Article
26 June 2019

USA: Wayfair workers to walk out to protest management decision to supply detention centre; CEO rejects their plea

Author: Peter Cohan, Forbes

"3 Reasons To Sell Wayfair On Today's Employee Walkout", 26 Jun 2019

This afternoon at 1:30pm employees of Boston-based online furniture retailer, Wayfair, plan to walk out of work to protest its decision to sell beds and other furniture to a U.S. government detention center. According to the Boston Globe, Wayfair announced Monday that it would supply BCFS, a government contractor, with beds and other items for a detention center in Carrizo Springs, Texas for up to 3,000 teenagers -- generating $200,000 worth of revenue -- and an estimated $86,000 in profits... On June 21 About 550 Wayfair employees signed a letter to company executives asking that they cease all business with contractors that operate detention camps for immigrants. According to the Post, Wayfair's letter to employees declined their request: "As a retailer, it is standard practice to fulfill orders for all customers and we believe it is our business to sell to any customer who is acting within the laws of the countries in which we operate. Your fellow employees hold a wide range of opinions and perspectives and Wayfair, as a mass-market brand, is oriented to serve a broad and diverse customer base."...Wayfair's move is a strong sell signal for investors in its stock:...1.) It demonstrates weak cost-benefit analysis..., 2.) It puts Wayfair into a political firestorm that could damage its brand,...3.) It will make it harder for Wayfair to attract and retain talented employees... 

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