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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.”

To date, more than 2,300 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 have 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.

 

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Company response
10 July 2018

Vanguard response

Author: Vanguard

We will not be commenting on individual companies or holdings. It is our desire that policymakers come to a swift resolution to ensure the safety and security of the children who have been separated from their families. While defense companies make up a very modest portion of the Vanguard funds’ portfolios, and are largely held in index-tracking funds, we understand that some investors may wish to avoid certain companies altogether. Investors looking to screen Vanguard funds for specific holdings can use the search tool on Vanguard’s website. We also offer Vanguard FTSE Social Index Fund, which screens companies based on certain social, human rights, and environmental criteria.

Download the full document here

Company response
10 July 2018

Wells Fargo response

Author: Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo respects the seriousness of our country's ongoing debate about the criminal justice and immigration system. As indicated in our Human Rights statement, Wells Fargo recognizes that governments have the duty to protect human rights, and our company has a responsibility to respect human rights... Wells Fargo does not hold any shares of either The GEO Group or CoreCivic. Wells Fargo Funds, which are owned by the Funds’ investors, not Wells Fargo, currently hold a very small position in the companies in a passive index fund. SEC filings can make it appear that Wells Fargo is the owner, but we are not.

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Report
3 July 2018

An examination of private financing for correctional & immigration detention facilities

Author: In the Public Interest

While governments have traditionally used municipal bonds to finance the construction of correctional facilities, there is evidence that the two major private prison companies, CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA) and GEO Group, are actively pushing governments to consider the use of private financing to build new facilities... This private financing boom has serious implications for policy making:

  • Private prison construction deals embed private interests in the criminal justice system, perpetuating mass incarceration...
  • Private prison construction deals prop up companies with records of human rights abuses. Regardless of whether a new facility will be operated by private or public sector staff, these deals grow and strengthen CoreCivic and GEO Group, both of which have extensive records of human rights abuses.

While this report focuses on the facility construction financing aspects of these contractual arrangements, it is important to note that CoreCivic and GEO Group’s track record providing facility operations has been consistently abysmal. There are numerous examples of both companies cutting corners and failing to provide humane treatment of prisoners and appropriate prison conditions... These records of human rights abuses should give any governmental entity serious pause before signing any type of contract with private prison companies.

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Article
3 July 2018

Businesses have made millions off Trump's child separation policy

Author: Hunter Walker, Yahoo News

President Trump's controversial child separation policy is being carried out with the help of private businesses who have received millions of dollars in government contracts to help run the shelters where young migrants are being held away from their parents... [B]y reviewing publicly available contracts data, Yahoo News was able to identify five companies that are participating in the operation of the shelters... The data reviewed by Yahoo News was for a contract vehicle called "Shelter Care for Unaccompanied Children 2022."... Comprehensive Health Services Inc. (CHSI), a Florida-based company that touts its experience with “immigrant shelter services” received the bulk of the contracts. According to GovTribe, the company was awarded three contracts worth up to about $65 million. The first contract awarded to CHSI through the vehicle kicked off in September 2017 and was for “emergency shelter operations.”   

... Dynamic Service Solutions, a Maryland firm, was awarded a contract worth up to $8.7 million from HHS through the “shelter care for unaccompanied children” vehicle in September 2017. The company has posted job openings online indicating it is hiring Spanish-speaking “youth care workers” to work with “unaccompanied alien children” in Homestead. Darnell Armstrong, president and CEO of Dynamic Service Solutions, referred all questions about his role in the child separation policy to the Department of Health and Human Services... Dynamic Educational Systems, a subsidiary of the Arizona firm Exodyne, was awarded a pair of HHS contracts worth up to approximately $5.6 million for “emergency shelter operations.” 

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Company response
3 July 2018

Comprehensive Health Services’ response re allegation that it profited from the Trump administration’s practice of separating migrant and asylum-seeking children from their parents

For questions about ORR or its programs, or about Federal or administration policy related to unaccompanied alien children, please contact the ACF Office of Public Affairs at 202-401-9215 or via email [email protected].

Company response
3 July 2018

CoreCivic response re allegation that it is profiting from the detention of immigrant and asylum-seeking families and separation of families

Author: CoreCivic

There is a considerable amount of misinformation around these issues. See the attached fact sheet that addresses our company's limited role in immigration, for your organization's benefit and that of your readers.

Download the full document here

Company non-response
3 July 2018

Dynamic Educational Systems re allegation that it profited from the Trump administration’s practice of separating migrant and asylum-seeking children from their parents

Company non-response
3 July 2018

Dynamic Service Solutions re allegation that it profited from the Trump administration’s practice of separating migrant and asylum-seeking children from their parents

Dynamic Service Solutions did not send a written response. When contacted by telephone, a company representative referred the Resource Centre to the Administration for Children & Families (ACF).

Company response
3 July 2018

GEO Group re allegation that it is profiting from the detention of immigrant and asylum-seeking families and separation of families

Author: GEO Group

While there has been some inaccurate speculation regarding our company’s involvement in immigration and border enforcement policies and the separation of families, GEO in fact has no involvement, and has never had any involvement, in any way with the policies in question. Our company does not and has never managed facilities that house unaccompanied minors nor has our company ever provided transportation or any other services for that purpose. Furthermore, GEO does not take a position on nor have we ever advocated for or against immigration enforcement or detention policies.

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Article
3 July 2018

These private prison companies are already profiting off of Trump’s order on family separation

Author: David Dayen, In These Times

Whether prosecuting or not, the Trump administration still has the goal, expressed in the order, of detaining families together indefinitely, until their immigration cases are complete... Trump’s plan is also contingent on finding enough beds to house as many as 19,000 women and children in detention facilities... And wherever they are held under Trump’s plan, someone will still have to perform day-to-day oversight of the families, and transport them around—and do the same for the 2,300 children already separated from their families... All of which may explain why the stock prices of oligopoly private prison companies Geo Group and CoreCivic have been rising ever since the Trump announcement, a pure expression of the sacks of cash awaiting private companies if they contribute to caging immigrant families... Instead of being contracted to manage facilities, Geo Group and CoreCivic want to build and own the facilities themselves. Top executives of both for-profit companies have stressed this desire in investor calls.  This not only saves on taxes, it’s far more lucrative than operations management. Estimates from CoreCivic’s financial disclosures show they earn 71 percent more revenue per prisoner in owned and managed facilities than in ones they solely manage—and six times more profit per prisoner... Trump’s new executive order signals the administration’s desire for far more immigrant detention construction. This is already in play; Geo Group is completing work on a 1,000-bed facility in Conroe, Texas, under a 2017 contract with ICE.

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