Campaign Updates

ENLACE-POSTER_outline_campaign11x85The Prison Divestment Campaign began in 2011 from the need to launch a comprehensive strategy to decriminalize immigrants and people of color, end detention, end mass incarceration, and demilitarize the border. It was not only Politicians that we needed to target, but also the For-Profit Prison Industry and Wall Street who were the other powerful force behind mass incarceration, the police state, immigrant detention, and deportation. The Campaign has since become a national movement bringing together Black, Brown, and LGBTQ communities to end mass incarceration and immigration enforcement. The movement is working to divest from criminalization and incarceration, and demand reparations and reinvestment in our communities!

Enlace builds alliances among organizations working on immigrant rights, criminal justice, another social justice groups to end mass incarceration and achieve legalization for all immigrants. For additional information visit Enlace’s webpage

Campaign to End Mass Incarceration, Deportations & Detention

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The Prison Divestment Movement is part of a larger movement called #FreedomCities that is redefining what Safety and Freedom mean for our communities.

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Report: Private prison corporations primed to cash in on Trump’s immigration executive order

Via In the Public Interest

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As the Trump administration ramps up the criminalization of immigration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been instructed to “accelerate resource capacity.” Our new report shows how private prison corporations CoreCivic and GEO Group are primed to provide additional immigration detention space by privately financing new facility construction.

The report, An examination of private financing for correctional and immigration detention facilities, documents the new business frontier for the two publicly traded corporations: privately financing new facilities through “public-private partnerships.” Providing financing to governments has become a central growth strategy as both companies became Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) in 2013, requiring them to have significant real estate holdings.

REIT status allows the corporations to avoid corporate-level taxation. GEO Group received almost $44 million in tax benefits in 2017.

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Who is Profiting from Incarcerating Immigrant Families?

Via LittleSis | Gin Armstrong, Molly Gott and Derek Seidman

In recent weeks, the Trump administration’s cruel policy of separating children from their parents who are detained at the U.S.-Mexico border dominated news headlines. Disturbing images and audio clips from processing centers and shelters housing children generated mass outrage among millions of people and numerous elected officials. More than 2,300 children that have been separated from their parents linger in shelters like the former Walmart in Brownsville, Texas, which houses around 1,500 children and has come to symbolize the larger story.

After days of intensifying public pressure and outcry, the Trump administration finally decided yesterday to end its policy of family separation, though families will remain in detention indefinitely. Nor does Trump’s order address what will happen to the children who have already been separated from their parents.

Against this backdrop, there has been increasing concern over who exactly has been profiting from these policies that incarcerate immigrant families. Who are the companies, investors, banks, and top executives that stand to make money – or are already profiting – off of the zero tolerance and family separation and indefinite detention policies? And more importantly, can they be pressured to end their complicity with and enabling of Trump’s inhumane immigration policies?

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The Billion-Dollar Business of Operating Shelters for Migrant Children

Casa Padre, a shelter run by Southwest Key Programs, houses roughly 1,500 immigrant children in a converted Walmart Supercenter in Brownsville, Tex.CreditTamir Kalifa for The New York Times

HARLINGEN, Tex. — The business of housing, transporting and watching over migrant children detained along the southwest border is not a multimillion-dollar business.

It’s a billion-dollar one.

The nonprofit Southwest Key Programs has won at least $955 million in federal contracts since 2015 to run shelters and provide other services to immigrant children in federal custody. Its shelter for migrant boys at a former Walmart Supercenter in South Texas has been the focus of nationwide scrutiny, but Southwest Key is but one player in the lucrative, secretive world of the migrant-shelter business. About a dozen contractors operate more than 30 facilities in Texas alone, with numerous others contracted for about 100 shelters in 16 other states.

If there is a migrant-shelter hub in America, then it is perhaps in the four-county Rio Grande Valley region of South Texas, where about a dozen shelters occupy former stores, schools and medical centers. They are some of the region’s biggest employers, though what happens inside is often highly confidential: One group has employees sign nondisclosure agreements, more a fixture of the high-stakes corporate world than of nonprofit child-care centers.

The recent separation of some 2,300 migrant children from their families under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal border crossers has thrust this invisible industry into the spotlight in recent weeks, as images of toddlers and teenagers taken from their parents and detained behind locked doors have set off a political firestorm. President Trump’s order on Wednesday calling for migrant families to be detained together likely means millions more in contracts for private shelter operators, construction companies and defense contractors.

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‘Freedom city’? Going beyond ‘sanctuary,’ Austin, Texas, vows to curtail arrests

Via LA Times | Jaweed Kaleem

'Freedom city'? Going beyond 'sanctuary,' Austin, Texas, vows to curtail arrests

Ever since the Texas legislature last year passed one of the country’s most aggressive “anti-sanctuary city” laws, some enclaves have fought officials over the extent to which police can ignore federal immigration law.

The state regulation known as Senate Bill 4 has been described by opponents as the “show your papers” law for allowing officers to ask about the immigration status of anybody arrested or detained. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed the law in May 2017, and Austin was among the first cities to challenge it in federal court. The law is currently in effect while a case against it proceeds.

 

The Trump administration, in the midst of legal battles against some states and cities for their sanctuary policies, has cheered Texas even as officers in cities such as Houston and Austin have rarely used the law to ask immigration questions. Some cities have indeed followed a part of the Texas law that calls for police to hold detainees believed to be in the country illegally. The White House has said dozens of sanctuary cities and counties in the country are breaking federal law for not fully cooperating with immigration authorities and has threatened to withhold public safety grants from them. The Texas governor has shared a similar argument, and echoed Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions in his belief that sanctuary cities promote crime.

 

Amid the controversy over sanctuary cities, Austin this month took its fight against strict immigration law enforcement a step further by declaring itself to be the first “freedom city” in Texas. City Council members unanimously passed two resolutions last week that will restrict police attempts to question immigrants about their status and curtail arrests for nonviolent crimes.

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Opposition to ICE facility is growing

Via Uinta County Herald | Sheila McGuire

EVANSTON — The Uinta County Commissioners and Evanston City Council unanimously voted last spring for resolutions supporting the proposed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center that the private company Management Training Corporation (MTC) is pursuing just outside Evanston city limits. However, across Wyoming, opposition is mounting and organizing.

WyoSayNo — described by organizer Antonio Serrano as a coalition of concerned people who are from Wyoming, love Wyoming and are concerned about the impact such a facility would have on Wyoming communities — has a website, an active Facebook social media presence and an official launch event scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 13, in Cheyenne, with simultaneous watch parties scheduled in communities around the state.

Dalia Pedro, fellow organizer, said the purpose of the WyoSayNo group and the launch event is to provide information on what an immigration center would mean for Wyoming communities, including those in Uinta County, and to hopefully stop its construction.

Serrano and Pedro said they are very concerned about the proposed center for several different reasons. Both said they work extensively with immigrant families in Wyoming and believe an ICE detention center would be detrimental to Wyoming communities by breaking up immigrant families.

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Prisons are Not Real Estate

Via Freedom Cities

Prisons and immigrant detention centers are cages that harm and kill. Yet in 2013, the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) granted the two biggest private prison companies, Geo Group and CoreCivic, a special status that would designate them as “real estate.” On June 5th, community members from the Freedom Cities movement disrupted the annual REITWeek investor conference, calling for an end to the collusion between private prison companies, government, and banks.

“These corporations and investors are plotting new ways to push our people out of their homes and into prisons, and are being rewarded to do so,” stated Cindy of Enlace, using a bullhorn outside of the Hilton Midtown hotel at 3:00pm, the same time CoreCivic presented to major investors, like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo, who sent their representatives to the conference.

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Florida’s Democratic Candidates for Governor Promise to Refuse Private-Prison Money

Via Miami New Times | Jerry Inannelli

The GEO Group, the second-largest private-prison operator in America, is headquartered in Boca Raton and loves greasing the Florida political system. GEO is one of the most powerful political donors in the state. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Republican politician who hasn’t accepted a few thousand dollars in campaign bucks from the giant, and more than a fair share of local Democrats have done the same.

That’s why a pledge today from all four major Democratic candidates for Florida governor — former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, and independent businessman Chris King — might signal a broader, leftward shift in criminal-justice policy from Democrats statewide. Today the civil rights group Dream Defenders announced that all four candidates have signed the group’s “Freedom Pledge” and promised not to take a cent from the private-prison industrial complex.

“These companies get paid for locking people in our neighborhoods up and then pay politicians to make it easier for them to do it,” Dream Defenders co-director Rachel Gilmer said today in a news release. “Florida is a playground for private prison companies.”