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Report: For-Profit Prison Lobby Influences Immigrant Detention Policy

A member of the Rand Paul campaign is handed a copy of a new report that details the role of for-profit prisons in shaping immigrant detention policies. (AFSC).
A member of the Rand Paul campaign is handed a copy of a new report that details the role of for-profit prisons in shaping immigrant detention policies. (AFSC).
January 12, 2016

MANCHESTER, N.H. - Immigration is a hot-button topic among presidential candidates campaigning in the Granite State, and a new report links lobbying money to the proportion of immigrants being held in detention in for-profit prisons.

Arnie Alpert, co-director of the American Friends Service Committee's Presidential Campaign Project, said the group's new report shows that for-profit prison corporations, which invest millions in lobbying, also end up housing nearly two-thirds of the immigrants currently in detention.

"We want to get for-profit prison companies out of the business of lobbying and using their political influence in ways that are violations of human rights," Alpert said.

He said his group delivered copies of the report to a dozen presidential campaign offices or representatives in New Hampshire and Iowa.

Alpert said the group is calling its effort the "Quota Caravan," because federal budget policy requires 34,000 immigrants to be held in detention on a daily basis.

"More than 60 percent of those immigrants are being held in prisons that are owned by for-profit corporations - which, not by coincidence at all, happen to be companies that spend millions of dollars a year lobbying," he said. "It's a classic case of what we call 'governing under the influence,' and we want it to stop."

The Obama administration also needs to be held to task, Alpert said, because on its watch, a for-profit company - Corrections Corp. of America - received a record $300 million in earnings from government contracts in 2013.

"We're also calling on the Obama administration to reverse its policy which has led to an increase in the number of raids, increase in deportations of people - most of whom are fleeing from situations of extreme violence and desperate policy in Central America and Mexico," he said.

The report is available online at afsc.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH