This Industry That Donated To Trump Sees Stocks Soar As ICE Raids Rip Apart Families
Major Trump Donor Sees Windfall As ICE Raids Intensify
Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted immigration raids Thursday and Friday that were described as “large scale” and of “unusual intensity” in at least six states, the Washington Post reported. Even as the Republican president’s ban on immigration from 7 predominantly Muslim countries was slapped down by the 9th Circuit as lacking a logical reason for its haste, Donald Trump flexed his powers to round up immigrants by force.
Immigrants and activists noted several trends. ICE was targeting large cities with large immigrant communities, conducting traffic stops, raiding homes, arresting people who had no criminal record, going door-to-door demanding to see people’s papers, and arresting people who couldn’t produce documentation to prove citizenship. The raids marked the beginning of an apparent effort by the Republican administration to make good on Trump’s promise to deport upwards of 3 million people. Under President Barack Obama, immigration enforcement targeted those who had committed crimes, and didn’t seek to split apart law-abiding families or heavily target the so-called DREAMers, young people who knew no other home. Trump’s enforcement policy seems to have no plan to make any distinctions, and will likely result in profiling and detaining lots of people who have done nothing wrong, widespread 4th Amendment violations and other civil liberties nightmares.
The raids are guaranteed to split up families who have lived together in the US for a long time, since large scale roundups will net people who are undocumented but have young children who are American citizens, grandparents and extended relatives who came to join legal residents, etc. Many of the DREAMers were young children when they crossed into the US and have lived here for years or decades, and have known no other home. The inhumanity of deporting them and the inability to reconcile strict enforcement with birthright citizenship and a desire not to split up families as national policy is why previous administrations have not gone after these groups aggressively.
As terror and panic tore through large immigrant communities across the Untied States, one industry was having a field day in the stock market: private prisons.
GEO Group is one of the largest purveyors of private prisons in America. Its stock prices have been on a roller coaster since August. On August 18th, the Obama administration announced that the federal government would phase out use of private prisons after a large scale audit found they had widespread safety and security problems that were worse than government-run prisons. The company’s stocks immediately tanked. There was speculation that the private prison industry could collapse soon. The next day, August 19th, GEO Corrections made a $100,000 donation to Rebuilding America Now, a Super PAC supporting Trump, according to OpenSecrets. In total, GEO Group and affiliates donated at least $275,000 to Trump in the presidential campaign. And that doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands it has donated to Republicans in Congress. Another large private prison contractor, CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America, also made donations. Its stocks have followed a trajectory very similar to GEO Group’s.
GEO Group’s and CoreCivic’s stocks remained low until election day, when they skyrocketed as Trump narrowly clinched the electoral college while losing the popular vote by 3 million votes. They continued climbing, and they are soaring again now that Jeff Sessions has been sworn in as Attorney General, Trump signed executive orders calling for more aggressive policing, and widespread raids have begun.
There are likely several reasons why their stocks are soaring. Private prisons spend a small fortune on lobbying for new laws that would result in new categories of crimes, and therefore, more people being imprisoned. The Republican administration is planning to do that beyond GEO Group’s wildest dreams. If the administration goes ahead with a wholesale deportation regime, they will have to build detention facilities to house hundreds of thousands of people as they are being processed. The resistance to that process is likely to lead to widespread violent crackdowns by police. That will lead to more incarceration. Sessions has expressed a desire to reignite the drug war in earnest, which could also lead to increased detention on a large scale. Trump has expressed a desire to “send in the feds” to inner cities to police black communities even more heavily than they already are.
Despite the fact that the United States imprisons more of its people total and per capita than any other country, imprisonment is likely about to skyrocket. The logical conclusion of everything that this administration wishes to do is to create new categories of crimes, whole new categories of populations deemed “illegal” and the incarceration of potentially millions of people. As Keith Olbermann ominously explains, basic arithmetic dictates that what they are proposing to do will likely necessitate the construction of “concentration camps.”
Private prisons also invest in other industries, particularly agriculture, textiles and manufacturing. They use their prisoners for cheap labor, and turn a profit on the labor. As Trump detains hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants, they will be leaving vacancies in these kinds of labor markets. It’s entirely possible that ICE could raid a farm, incarcerate all the workers, and a private prison could send them back to the same kind of farm to do the same kind of work for almost no money. But now, Trump’s donors would be turning a profit on what is essentially slave labor.
We know that Trump ally Rudy Giuliani–who was instrumental in FBI Director James Comey’s 11th hour nonsensical intervention in the election–is invested in private prisons, and has lobbied for them. Since the Republican president has not released his taxes, we don’t know whether he is invested in private prisons. But during the campaign, Trump told Chris Matthews in a town hall interview, “I do think we can do a lot of privatizations and private prisons. It seems to work a lot better.” The idea that private prisons are “better” in any way than government-run prison is not supported by any facts. Private prisons cost taxpayers more, cause more people to be thrown in prison, violate the health and safety of prisoners more, and corrupt politicians more than publicly funded prisons. The scale of Trump’s secret holdings and the bonanza he’s creating for private prisons raises the question of whether he is directly profiting from his new role as America’s warden.
So this is where we are in America right now, an authoritarian regime is forming like a Voltron of the most inhumanely exploitative industries, ripping law-abiding families apart for profit, to yank us back to the kind of society that existed before the Civil War. When Trump said “Make America Great Again,” he was referring to the Confederacy.