The short version:
This issue is long and complicated. Here's a quick summary of what you can do, followed by the full blog with explanations.
Divest from: Geo Corp, CoreCivic (CXW: NYSE), Wells Fargo (WFC: NYSE), Bank of America (BAC: NYSE), JPMorgan Chase (JPM: NYSE), BNP Paribas (BNP: NYSE), SunTrust (STI: NYSE), and US Bancorp (USB: NYSE), Accenture, and General Dynamics
Also divest from: "the Million Shares Club,"a list of companies that each own over 1 million shares in Geo Group and CoreCivic
Contact and complain: Accenture, Comprehensive Health Services Inc., Dynamic Service Solutions, LLC, Dynamic Education Systems, a subsidiary of Exodyne, General Dynamics, MVM, Inc., Southwest Key Programs, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Delta Airlines
March wherever you are on June 30th
Donate supplies like toothpaste and diapers, and funds for legal support.
The full issue breakdown:
There’s a lot of misinformation on the Internet about US immigrant detention policies. The facts, confirmed by multiple sources, are as follows: Conditions in immigrant detention centers have been horrible for years, under Trump, Obama, and presidents before them, especially in those that are run by private companies. However, what changed under the Trump administration is that adults—including those lawfully seeking asylum—are being forcibly separated from their children in huge numbers. The Associated Press reported on June 19th that even babies and toddlers are being sent without their parents to “tender age” shelters in South Texas.
The family-separation policy, announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April and May, is nothing short of “torture,” as a Washington Post editorial noted. You can use your economic power to send a message to the companies involved in immigrant detention and family separation that they need to stop profiting from America’s broken and unjust immigration system.
While Trump recently reversed the family-separation policy through executive order after a massive public outcry, it still remains to be seen what kind of actions the government will take to reunite the families already separated. Experts note that that reunification is likely to be a complex, drawn-out process, if it happens at all.
“More than 2,300 children have been taken away from their parents and sent to shelters, facilities and foster families all across the country, with seemingly no clear tracking mechanism. The executive order does not say anything about the plan to reunite these families, and the administration confirmed that it will not be not be making any special efforts to do so," writes Lorella Praelli of the American Civil Liberties Union in a June 21st blog.
In addition, Trump’s new executive order now states that the government will keep families together but may detain them “indefinitely”—indicating that more human rights violations could occur under this administration, as immigrants are denied the right given to US citizens of a “fair and speedy” hearing or trial.
Under previous administrations, most immigrants who crossed the border illegally were deported within an average of one to two months from their detention, according to NPR, while asylum-seekers and legal permanent residents accused of committing a crime have had to wait an average of 13 months for their cases to be decided. Prior to Trump, many of those seeking asylum were allowed to be free on bail.
In addition to contacting your Congressional representatives to voice your opposition to inhumane immigration policies and practices, here’s what you can do to use your economic power to help change the system.
Private prison companies Geo Corp. (GEO: NYSE) and CoreCivic (CXW: NYSE) (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) run several US immigrant detention centers and are profiting from unfair immigration policies, as Green America editorial fellow Sytonia Reid noted in her recent article, "On Sale Now: Prison Labor."
Reid notes that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been arresting those seeking asylum, locking them up for prolonged periods without bail—a violation of US and international law. In fact, she writes, “In March, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit ‘to challenge the Trump administration’s arbitrary and illegal incarceration of thousands of asylum seekers who fled persecution, torture, or death in their countries of origin.’”
Conditions in these centers leave a lot to be desired. Reid’s article details some of the abuse, including forced labor, immigrant detainees experience under detention. And, as we were getting ready to post this article, the Associated Press broke a story about detained immigrant youth as young as 14 alleging they were physically abused while handcuffed and put in freezing solitary-confinement cells while naked.
Due to the poor conditions inside private prisons and detention centers—as well as the political lobbying these companies do to promote policies that encourage incarceration and immigrant detention—activists are calling for divestment from Geo Group, Core Civic, and the banks that fund them: Wells Fargo (WFC: NYSE), Bank of America (BAC: NYSE), JPMorgan Chase (JPM: NYSE), BNP Paribas (BNP: NYSE), SunTrust (STI: NYSE), and US Bancorp (USB: NYSE).
The nonprofit Enlace is also calling on investors to divest from what it calls "the Million Shares Club,"a list of companies that each own over 1 million shares in Geo Group and CoreCivic.
For assistance with screening your stock holdings and mutual or exchange-traded funds for these banks, prison companies, and other companies funding prisons, find a socially responsible investment advisor at GreenPages.org. And visit Green America’s BreakUpWithYourMegaBank.org for help moving your accounts out of the banks profiting from immigrant detention.
A handful of defense contractor companies are working with the government to detain and care for immigrants who have attempted to enter the US, and so are profiting from US immigrant-detention policies.
You can do two things regarding these companies:
- Divest from those that are publicly traded if you hold their stock shares or have mutual or exchange-traded funds that include them. Those listed below are noted by ticker symbols (shortened company names used for stocks) after the company names.
- Contact the companies to demand they stop profiting from unfair immigration policies. Click on the company names to go to their contact or investor relations web pages.
Accenture (ACN: NYSE)—This company won a five-year, $297 million contract last December to help Customers and Border Protection recruit and hire 7,500 additional agents “amid President Donald Trump’s push for increased border security,” according to Washington Technology, a magazine for government contractors.
Comprehensive Health Services Inc. (Private company)—Since September 2017, this company has been awarded nearly $65 million in federal contracts for emergency immigrant-detention shelters—including those for unaccompanied children (and likely those separated from families)—as well as other services for detained immigrants, according to Yahoo News.
Dynamic Service Solutions, LLC (Private company)—Another federal contractor that earned $8.7 million on a contract to provide shelter care to unaccompanied children. Yahoo News notes that this company is likely providing shelter to children separated from families, as well.
Dynamic Education Systems, a subsidiary of Exodyne (Private company)—This company provides emergency shelter operations for unaccompanied children and other immigrant detainees, according to Yahoo News.
General Dynamics (GD: NYSE)—According to multiple sources, General Dynamics provides services like medical care to children who have been detained, including those separated from their parents under the Trump policy.
MVM, Inc. (Private company)—MVM provides child care, transportation, and other services for detained immigrant children. It also recently advertised on Indeed.com for a compliance coordinator to help with “rapid deployment of an Emergency Influx Shelter for unaccompanied children,” the Daily Beast reports. MVM told Yahoo News that it has not accepted new contracts associated with immigrant families and children since the implementation of the family-separation policy.
Southwest Key Programs (Nonprofit)—The Washington Post reports that this company operates an immigrant detention facility in a former Walmart in Texas where hundreds of immigrant children who were separated from their families are currently being held. It plans to open another in a vacant warehouse in Houston.
Detained immigrants, including children separated from their families, have been flown to detention centers in 17 states across the US, but federal officials won’t say how they get there, notes Bloomberg.
But the media and the public wanted to know. After fielding questions about whether they had helped separate immigrant families on June 21st, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and United Airlines asked the US government not to fly immigrant children who were separated from their families on their planes.
“Based on our serious concerns about this policy and how it’s in deep conflict with our company’s values, we have contacted federal officials to inform them that they should not transport immigrant children on United aircraft who have been separated from their parents,” United CEO Oscar Munoz said in a statement.
And American released a statement that read, in part: “The family separation process that has been widely publicized is not at all aligned with the values of American Airlines—we bring families together, not apart. … We have therefore requested the federal government to immediately refrain from using American for the purpose of transporting children who have been separated from their families due to the current immigration policy. We have no desire to be associated with separating families, or worse, to profit from it. We have every expectation the government will comply with our request and we thank them for doing so.”
Alaska Airlines released a similar statement on Twitter.
Other airlines followed up with their own statements, though most were weaker.
Frontier Airlines said it would not knowingly transport immigrant children away from their families but did not mention asking the government not to use its planes to do so.
JetBlue did not respond to media requests for comment, though it does have a statement on its website saying that it “does not transport deportees/detainees, with the exception of JetBlue's non-compliance with entry regulations, such as the required tickets and entry documents, results in a JetBlue customer being detained/deported according to Immigration Authorities.”
Southwest Airlines publicly appealed to “anyone making those types of travel decisions” not to use its airlines to separate immigrant families.
Delta Airlines responded late on June 21st, calling the policy “disheartening” but did not say whether it had helped separate families or would do so in the future. The company simply said in its statement, “We applaud the administration’s executive order resolving the issue of separating children from their families at the US border.”
Despite American’s statement, lawyer Michael Avenatti tweeted a picture of several immigrant boys awaiting an American Airlines flight to be transported out of the area. It’s clear that the public is on the lookout for immigrant children sans families being transported on US airlines. American released a statement saying the photo “concerned” its employees, and they approached ICE.
“We have been assured by the escorts of this specific group, and further confirmed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, that these individuals are being reunited with family members who live in the United States," American Airlines said in a statement.
Click on the company names above to thank American, United, and Alaska, via their investor relations sites, for taking a stand (and let them know you’ll be watching their future moves on this issue), and tell the others to follow suit.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)—a longtime immigrant-rights leader-turned-Congressional representative (as detailed in our 2017 interview with her)—recently announced a nationwide march scheduled for June 30th. While it was initially conceived to protest family separation, Jayapal and organizers note that Trump’s executive order does not solve the overall problem of inhumane immigrant detention, and it paves the way for long periods of incarceration for immigrants. The protest will go on as planned, “to say that families belong together—and free.”
As Jayapal tweeted on June 20th on Trump’s executive order, “Donald Trump’s new order is a response to the outcry from the American people. We must reject the false choice between separating children from parents and putting families in cages. Both are horrific. Both are wrong. We cannot let up until we have a humane system in place.”
Sign up for one of the June 30th protests via MoveOn.org. (For marchers who need buttons, posters, stickers, or books supporting immigrant families, the Syracuse Cultural Workers, a progressive publisher and Green America Green Business Network member, has several great options.)
In addition, several good organizations are working at the border to help immigrant families, especially those whose young children have been separated from them and could use financial support. The Daily Beast lists several, including two that have online wish lists for those wanting to purchase needed baby and toiletry items for detained children.
No matter what your stance on border enforcement is, it’s critical to not allow the government to abuse or indefinitely detain immigrants or separate families. Act now for a fair and just immigration system