Ocasio-Cortez Wants Hearing on Banks Profiting Off Immigrant Detention, Cities and Counties Should be Next

Ocasio-Cortez in Anaheim last year. Photo by Gabriel San Roman

By Hairo Cortes, Chispa

New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez expressed interest in grilling representatives from the country’s biggest banks about their lending ties to private immigration detention centers. “We’re going to hold oversight hearings to make these banks accountable for investing in and making money off of the detention of immigrants,” she said a community event last week. “Because it’s wrong.”

An article in Bloomberg about such potential hearings noted JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America’s roles in lending to GEO Group and CoreCivic, two of the most prominent private prison corporations around. For many of us who’ve been organizing for migrant justice, and against the immigration enforcement system that has dehumanized immigrants into a commodity served up to for-profit jail companies like the GEO Group and CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America), this is one of the moments we’ve been waiting for.

To force big bank executives to answer for their role in propping up the prison-industrial complex would finally turn the spotlight on the real crisis that’s happening at the border and in communities across the country with longstanding immigrant prisons like the Adelanto Detention Center in California’s high desert and the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona.

But while much of the focus on the immigrant prison industry has been placed on the privatized side of things, it’s important for Congress to look at the bigger picture: from the banks and investment firms, to the private prison companies, and finally to the cities and counties that have operated sections of their public jails like for-profit immigrant detention centers to cash in on human suffering.

On the latter point, this would mean forcing county sheriffs, like Orange County’s own Don Barnes, to answer for their departments’ longstanding immigrant detention agreements with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and their financial interests in operating publicly-owned jails like Theo Lacy and the James A. Musick Facility essentially as businesses.

The core problem of immigrant detention is immigrant detention–whether it is child being detained by Border Patrol along the Texas border, a father held in a privately operated jail in the high desert, or an African refugee in a county-owned one across the street from the Outlets at Orange.

All those responsible for allowing this system to expand and thrive at the expense of immigrant communities and the separation of families should have to answer for their actions. For now, let’s hope Ocasio-Cortez gets those hearings soon enough in starting with the big banks.

Deport This! is a partnership between OC Weekly, Chispa and Orange County Immigrant Youth United. The column is a rebuttal of Donald Trump’s racist politics and his OC cheerleaders, who’ll no doubt get triggered every week with news and views by and about the undocumented community.

5 Replies to “Ocasio-Cortez Wants Hearing on Banks Profiting Off Immigrant Detention, Cities and Counties Should be Next”

  1. Very smart go after the money trail…the corrupt system is set up to make money off immigrants, prisoners in general. That’s why the fight so hard against reform weather its immigration or prison these corrupt Corporations feed off the broken system… go get’m Cortez

  2. Restaurants want customers and it appears in the US that jails want criminals the more they get the more they make! Having private prisons encourages corruption . Judges giving longer sentences support private prisons. Guilty sentences support private prisons. How do you know the judge is not in collusion with the prisons. So easy to bribe a Judge to get more people in your prison. The US should over haul their entire prison practice but they wont-
    People are making too much money!


  4. Very interesting…. Ms Ocasio also must over see the internacional fundings, how immigration is an outcome of those policies implemented by US Corp America/Corruption in politics olding Public Office .

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