Corporations profit from almost every step in the U.S.’s immigration system

Food, health care, and more are provided to undocumented immigrants by corporations, many of them owned by private equity investors and hedge funds.

Jeremy Mohler
Jul 5 · 3 min read

As pressure builds to #CloseTheCamps, more and more people are waking up to the fact that a majority of undocumented immigrants swept up by Trump’s crackdown are being caged in detention centers run by for-profit corporations.

Even the country’s second largest Wall Street bank, Bank of America, recently buckled under pressure to end its lending to CoreCivic and GEO Group, the country’s two largest private prison corporations.

But, as we depicted in a 2016 infographic, corporations profit from almost every step that a person goes through in the immigration detention system.

When someone is arrested and sent to a detention center, they’re transported by companies like the Alaska-based Trailboss Enterprises, Inc. Another company, MVM, Inc., specializes in transporting unaccompanied children to and from facilities.

When a detainee gets sick, they’re handled by companies like Corizon, which is owned by BlueMountain Capital Management, a New York- and London-based hedge fund. Another prison health care corporation, Wellpath, has been sued for things like neglect and wrongful death a staggering 1,395 times in federal courts in the last decade.

Food services in detention centers are often privatized as well. Corporations like Sodexo and Aramark have been caught serving things like rancid chicken, food infested with maggots, and cake that was nibbled on by rats. Incarcerated people are six times more likely to contract foodborne illnesses than people on the outside.

Transferring money (if it’s available) is handled by corporations like JPay, which is owned by Securus, itself owned by private equity investors.

Collecting fees from detainees is handled by banks like U.S. Bancorp, the parent company of US Bank, the country’s 7th-largest bank.

Prison phone companies like Securus and GTL charge detainees as much as $18 for a 20-minute call.

Commissary services (toilet paper, clothing, snacks, etc.) are provided by corporations like Keefe Group and Trinity, both owned by the same private equity company, TKC Holdings.

If a person is lucky enough to be released before immigration proceedings or deportation, they’re slapped with an electronic ankle monitor from BI Incorporated, a GEO Group subsidiary. BI Incorporated was founded in 1978 as a cattle-monitoring service and has won more than half a billion dollars in contracts with ICE since 2004.

Companies like Classic Air Charter Inc. (the same private plane broker that helped in the CIA “extraordinary rendition” torture program) help with ICE deportations.

All of the executives and investors involved in these corporations have a financial interest in expanding Trump’s immigration crackdown.

The takeaway is crystal clear: if we’re going to dramatically reform our immigration laws or even #DismantleICE, removing private profit from the system is a necessary step.

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Jeremy Mohler

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DC-based writer and meditation teacher. jeremymohler.blog and inthepublicinterest.org. Sign up for my email list: jeremymohler.blog/signup

In the Public Interest

In the Public Interest is a nonprofit that advocates for democratic control of public goods and services.