Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Scam of Private Detention

So, while the country was up in arms over the Trump administration's "crackdown" on migrants and their children coming over the border, sharper eyes were noticing the connection between this latest fracas, private detention companies, and Wall Street (because, as I've noted for more than a decade on this blog, ALWAYS follow the money):

Many of the nonprofits, corporations and religious groups watching over migrant children detained at the southwest border have been in this business for years — and they have a history of political connections, donating millions of dollars to Democrats and Republicans alike.
Now, as new federal policies greatly expand the number of migrants held in detention, it is also becoming clear that some of the players in this billion-dollar industry have particularly strong ties to the Trump administration.
The president’s education secretary provided funding to one of the groups. His defense secretary sat on the board of another. Mr. Trump’s own inauguration fund collected $500,000 from two private prison companies housing detained migrant families. And some of the contractors employ prominent Republican lobbyists with ties to Mr. Trump and his administration, including someone who once lobbied for his family business.
There is no indication that political favors or influence motivated any of the contracts, and the service providers have no apparent ties to the agency awarding most of the contracts, the Department of Health and Human Services. Many of the groups had federal contracts to work with migrant children long before President Trump took office.
True, but as I noted after the election in 2016, private dungeon stocks soared by more than 40% upon news of his election, in particular among the two largest dungeon companies CoreCivic and the GEO Group.
Two private prison companies are already operating a pair of family detention centers in Texas. Planned new emergency shelters at military bases are also likely to be operated by contractors, as were similar facilities that opened temporarily on bases as a result of a surge in border crossings during the Obama administration.
The two private prison companies that run family centers, the Geo Group and CoreCivic, are among the politically connected contractors. Each donated $250,000 to Mr. Trump’s inaugural fund. And the Geo Group’s political action committee, while bipartisan in its giving, allocates many of its biggest donations to Republicans. These include $170,000 to a joint fund-raising committee set up between the Republican Party and the Trump campaign; $50,000 to a “super PAC” supporting the president; and, more recently, donations to Republican Party organizations focusing on the House and Senate.
The Geo Group also hired a lobbyist, Brian Ballard, who lobbied for Mr. Trump’s golf courses in Florida before he became president. A recent disclosure form shows that, on behalf of the Geo Group, Mr. Ballard’s firm was registered to lobby about “immigration regulation.”
In a statement, the Geo Group said that its family center has “cared exclusively for mothers together with their children since 2014 when it was established by the Obama administration.”
LOL. It wasn't "established by the Obama administration." The contract may have been signed during the Obama years, but the administration didn't "establish" the GEO Group's system of immigration concentration camps.
The company said the political contributions “should not be construed as an endorsement of all policies or positions adopted by any individual candidate,” adding that it does “not take a position on nor have we ever advocated for or against criminal justice or immigration policies.”
Steve Owen, a spokesman for CoreCivic, said that the company’s donation to Mr. Trump’s inauguration was “consistent with our past practice of civic participation in and support for the inauguration process.” He added that “under longstanding policy, CoreCivic does not draft, lobby for, promote or in any way take a position on proposals, policies or legislation that determine the basis or duration of an individual’s incarceration or detention.”
No, they just support candidates who do, via their PAC contributions, which is good for business. And as the FEC filings showed in the postmortem of the 2016 election, these private dungeons gave WAY more to the Trumpers than they did the Clintonites, and then really turned on the spigot for the inauguration.

Worse is the participation in politics of so-called non-profit and "faith-based" organizations which stand to reap said quid-pro-quo benefits. True, they can't donate directly to campaigns, but as the article notes, their connections to the Trumpers was beyond coincidental.
Although these nonprofits are not doling out campaign donations, some nonetheless have ties to the Trump administration.
Bethany Christian Services, a social services group that provides foster care to migrant children, has long been backed by the family foundation of Betsy DeVos, Mr. Trump’s education secretary. Over the years, the group has received more than $419,000 in grants from the foundation, tax records show.
Another member of the Trump cabinet, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, once sat on the board of General Dynamics, which over the last 18 years has received millions of dollars in contracts from the Department of Health and Human Services office that works with migrant children. The company does not operate or construct any migrant shelters, but instead offers training and technical assistance to the shelters and provides other administrative services to the government. The company, which has a number of government contracts unrelated to the migrant children program, said it has “no role in the separation of children and families.”
General Dynamics, which has registered to lobby on the issue of “border security,” also operates a PAC that has donated to members of both parties, including more than $1.1 million to Republican candidates and causes during this election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The company, which says its PAC “supports Congressional candidates who support a strong national defense, regardless of their party affiliation,” made one of those donations to the congressional campaign of Greg Pence, the brother of Vice President Mike Pence.
BCFS — a nonprofit group that operates a number of shelters housing migrant children, including a tent city outside of El Paso that has been the focus of protests — counts a former Republican congressman, Henry Bonilla, as a longtime board member and a lobbyist. In December 2016, Mr. Bonilla met with Mr. Trump, then the president-elect, to discuss joining his cabinet as agriculture secretary. BCFS has also long retained Ray Sullivan, a lobbyist and onetime chief of staff to Rick Perry, the former Texas governor who is now Mr. Trump’s energy secretary.
And on and on it goes. The point being, as per usual when some form of criminal justice crackdown happens (war on immigration, war on drugs, war on terror, war on whatever), the rule of thumb you should always apply is follow the money. Who's making money off this and why? How are corporations and other so-called non-profits making coin off of human tragedy?

And the answers will inevitably explain said crackdown phenomenon, along with the depravity of capitalism and for-profit companies operating in the criminal justice system.

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