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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.”

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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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.

Download the full document here

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.

Read the full post here

Company non-response
10 July 2018

Bank of America did not respond

Bank of America did not respond to allegations that through its financing for GEO Group and Core Civic, Bank of America is helping to enable the work of these for-profit US immigration detention companies that are allegedly profiting from the Trump Administration’s harsh immigration policies, including separating migrant and asylum-seeking families.

Company response
10 July 2018

BlackRock response

Author: BlackRock

Virtually all of these shares are held in index funds. Index providers determine which companies to include in the indices they create. As a fiduciary, BlackRock then offers clients funds, like ETFs, that are designed to track the investment results of those third-party indices.

Download the full document here

Company response
10 July 2018

BNP Paribas response

Author: BNP Paribas

We thank you for your request dated July 3rd, and raising our attention on the report called "Immigration Detention: An American Business" by Corrections Accountability Project, published in June 2018. In your request, you stated that "this report alleges that through its financing for GEO Group and Core Civic, BNP Paribas is helping to enable the work of these for-profit US immigration detention companies that have and continue to profit from the Trump Administration's harsh immigration policies, including separating migrant and asylum-seeking families". We are taking this matter very seriously. We will verify our link to the above companies. We can already assure you that, would BNP Paribas be exposed to this issue via a client, we would engage the dialogue with him.

Download the full document here

Report
10 July 2018

Immigration detention: An American business

Author: Corrections Accountability Project

On April 6, 2018, the administration announced a "zero tolerance" immigration policy that requires every undocumented adult immigrant and asylum seeker in the U.S. to be criminally prosecuted under federal law... The "zero tolerance" immigration policy and the executive order ending family separation have created windfalls for some... For-profit companies contract with the various government agencies that manage the apprehension, detention, and deportation of undocumented immigrants... The largest financial winners at the border are, as many expect, the private prison companies that operate immigration detention centers, the most prominent of which are The GEO Group and CoreCivic. With more than 40% of their respective revenues stemming from federal contracts, these companies invested heavily in the outspoken federal, state, and local candidates interested in advancing harsh immigration policies like "zero tolerance" during the 2016 election cycle... [B]oth raked in millions on the thousands of immigrant adults and children imprisoned in their facilities.   

... [B]anks... provide credit financing, or loans, to The GEO Group and CoreCivic for the construction of new facilities and expansion of existing facilities... without which they could not pursue such projects... [These banks include JPMorgan Chase, SunTrust, Bank of America, BNP Paribas, US Bank & Wells Fargo.]... [A]s publicly-traded companies, The GEO Group and CoreCivic are also dependent on their institutional investors... Largest institutional investors [include]... Vanguard & BlackRock.  

Read the full post here

Company non-response
10 July 2018

JPMorgan Chase declined to respond

JPMorgan Chase declined to respond to allegations that through its financing for GEO Group and Core Civic, JPMorgan Chase is helping to enable the work of these for-profit US immigration detention companies that are allegedly profiting from the Trump Administration’s harsh immigration policies, including separating migrant and asylum-seeking families.

Company non-response
10 July 2018

SunTrust declined to respond

SunTrust declined to respond to allegations that through its financing for GEO Group and Core Civic, SunTrust is helping to enable the work of these for-profit US immigration detention companies that are allegedly profiting from the Trump Administration’s harsh immigration policies, including separating migrant and asylum-seeking families.