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Robert Greenwald

Robert Greenwald is a producer, director, political activist, and Brave New Films founder and president.

May 12th, 2011 3:03 PM

Immigrants For Sale

Immigrants For Sale

Georgia is the latest state to pass an anti-immigrant bill like SB1070, with Governor Deal expected to sign it tomorrow. Georgia is also home to the largest private prison in the country.

Coincidence? Not even close.

It’s hardly a secret that private prison corporations like Corrections Corporation of America and The GEO group, along with right-wing lobbying group ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and a few pocketed state legislators like Russell Pearce in Arizona, have been at it–deliberately promoting and designing laws aimed at incarcerating immigrants and turning the prison system into an incredibly lucrative business.

Just last year the private prison industry secured close to $5 billion through state and government elicited contracts of which an increasing percentage is attributed to migrant detention facilities and bed spaces. An NPR report outlined how CCA aims to translate the anti-immigrant rhetoric and political void into a long-lasting cash drive–believing that immigrants will provide a fresh influx of ‘guests’ in their less then onerous ‘hotel’ cells. Even worse, CCA founder Tomas Beasly once called his scheme ‘more profitable’ than selling burgers or cars–a clear indication that any sense of justice in the prison industry will be forever trumped by cash flows and profit margins.

It is clear that for CCA, along with the GEO Group and Management and Training, immigrants are a product–one that is for sale to the highest vendor. They view locked-up immigrants as the next big share jump, stock option, bonus incentive, or any other motive that tickles their multi-billion dollar fancy. They have no shame admitting so–every year the private prison industry gets together for a major convention to essentially design strategies that will fill the more then 150,000 bed spaces they currently own.

There is always one question that lingers: What happens once these spaces are filled? Their answer: -Get the IMMIGRANTS. There will forever be an immigration issue–so what better way to stay in business? Round-em up like cattle, shackle them up by feet and hands and throw them in a cell where they’ll most likely get lost in a system ill-designed to provide justice to anyone except their self-serving patrons.

What is even more disappointing is that government officials–from the state and local levels to the federal administration–have decided to abandon any possibility for real comprehensive immigration approach. Instead they continue to allow profit-seeking corporations to fill the gaps left by inadequate policy, offering up YOUR tax dollars and creating yet another industry bubble that uses immigrant persecution as their main throttle.

The immigration debate needs a serious, integrated national and foreign policy plan–one the deals with the root of the issue. What it doesn’t need are the hands of businessmen looking to make another buck. What we get are ill-advised, constitutionally useless discriminatory laws like SB1070–laws that have caused more harm to the debate, the economy and the nation’s political discourse.

This model prioritizes profit ahead of brains. Money ahead of humanity. Greed in place of decency. It’s ‘immigration’ being put up for sale. We can no longer afford our apathy. The longer we wait to build coherent, legal solutions to the issue, the more abusive practices continue to prosper. It’s time to take a very close look at what private prisons are doing to our security, our social fabric and our Latino communities.

They are using us as scapegoats to fill the coffers–as pawns in the next Ponzi scheme. CCA, ALEC and their cronies are not in it to “fix” the immigration issue. Who are we kidding? They love it–the less immigrants to put behind bars, the less Latinos to incarcerate while waiting for proof of papers, the less individuals to get lost in the system–the less dollars deposited into their bank accounts. They don’t care about who is affected, who dies in their care, who faces persecution by the hateful laws they are peddling.

It’s all about the profit.

They are making a killing, and you are paying for it.

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