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Detentions And Wall Street

Profits And Prisons: Detention Stocks Rise On The Backs Of Refugee Children


As a deportation and removal defense lawyer, I learned long ago that understanding the U.S. immigrant detention system can be confusing to those unacquainted with how deportation policy works.

Take the Central American refugee children influx.

On the one hand, some critics assert the U.S. government is too soft on the refugee children and allow them too much due process.

On the other, refugee supporters argue that the U.S. is rushing the children through the immigration court system, not following asylum law protocol and violating constitutional principles.

Absent preset bias, what is the public to think?

Meanwhile, according to a recent news report, quietly in the background, the profits for immigrant detention center investors are soaring.

Private Prison Stocks Soar As Companies Cash In On Incarcerated Immigrants
Nicole Flatow, Think Progress, September 2, 2014

Share prices for two of the largest private prison firms have spiked sharply since an influx of unaccompanied migrant children crossing the border was reported this summer. And some investors in GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America are seizing on the opportunity for more profit from incarceration, according to recent comments to CNN Money.

“Investors see this as an opportunity. This is a potentially untapped market that will have very strong demand,” activist investor Alex Friedmann told CNN Money.

Both firms, which house prisoners through private sector contracts with the government, have arrangements with federal agencies to detain immigrants. Since July 30, CCA’s stock has increased 8.5 percent, and GEO’s has increased 7 percent. Analyst Brian Ruttenbur added that both companies are “extremely well positioned” to “help with the crisis.”


The rising stocks, in varying ways, undercut the positions of both children refugee opponents and sympathizers.

Why would the Department of Justice try to quickly deport the Central American refugee children when detention stocks are rising due to the influx?

Almost seems incongruent.

One might suggest this shows private immigrant detention centers are simply businesses with no political ties.

However, as this image from Detention Watch shows, this view is wrong.


Given this background, it would behoove both asylum opponents and supporters to take a deeper look at the uptick in investor profits for the GEO Group and CCA, in order to ascertain the influence of such factors in the current debate over the detention policies for the refugee children.

The answers may be more disconcerting than the refugee crisis itself.


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