Making a Buck Off of Freedom

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Last year 380,000 immigrants were detained, costing taxpayers $1.7 billion.

But did you know that Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds immigrants in 16 facilities run by private prison corporations?

Now history has proven without a doubt that capitalism is a powerful force. With profit and growth, companies can invest more money in their growth and fuel the economic engine that pays back bold investment with greater profit. The cycle, if run correctly, can lead to the exponential growth of private capital.

But what happens when your chain of supply and demand are people, and your primary product is the “management” of their freedom?

How do you grow your company? Well you increase the demand for your service. In the world of immigration detention that means making sure mothers, fathers, and children, who are productive members of society, are rounded up and handed over to you.

Your quarterly reports reflect an amount of freedom denied minus operating costs. The difference is how much wealth you extracted from the freedom of others.

When you report to your board of directors, you mention the ‘positive environment’  that points to increased growth of non-criminal freedom denial in the coming fiscal years.  Gridlock in Washington means frustration on Main Street. And frustration on Main Street means bonuses on Wall Street as your beds keep getting filled like a prized commodity.

How do you project sustained growth? Your “business model”, as NPR reported in a shocking investigation (part 2 here), is to influence legislation that will make immigration enforcement part of everyday police work. The more they criminalize immigration the more they open up the untapped resources of almost 12 million undocumented migrants.  The private prison industry increases demand and then steps in to provide the service. The industry is expected to “outperform” expectations as more contracts are signed securing an ever increasing number of “beds”.

Beds?

In the immigration detention business they never talk about how many people they detain. They talk about beds. They objectify their service to make it more palatable. They forget to mention there are hardworking people, vulnerable migrants, asylum seekers, and torture survivors sleeping on those beds.

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