Lessons Learned: “Immigrants For Sale”

Immigrants-for-Sale-LOGO1.pngThis week has been a tremendous learning experience for me. Before I started as a story producer for “Immigrants for Sale,” I didn’t know much about private prisons or their powerful influence on lawmakers—much less that SB 1070 was drafted with the interests of the private prison industry in mind.

Within a span of a week, I have learned extensively on how private prison entities like CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) and the GEO Group have spent millions of dollars lobbying for policies and programs that will increase their opportunities to do business with the government. This means that these powerful entities have major weight when it comes to influencing policymakers in proposing laws that are detrimental to immigrant communities—like SB 1070. It had not occurred to me that big powerhouses like ALEC and these private entities were behind this bill—and folks like Russell Pearce were responsible for taking the bill even further.

What has struck me the most over the past week has been my conversations with the families that have had or currently have a loved one in one of CCA’s or GEO Group’s facilities. I talked to Emily Guzman today from Durham, NC—her husband has been detained in a CCA owned facility in Georgia due to a minor error in a residency interview.

Immigration authorities sent Emily’s husband, Pedro, a notice to appear in court to the wrong address. Because Pedro didn’t know he had to report to court, he was arrested at his home by ICE authorities. Emily and her son, Logan, are both US citizens—and Pedro was 8 years old when he entered the US. The fact that this family has literally been torn apart due to a minor error in a residency interview is not only disquieting but also representative of the disastrous affects that bills like SB 1070 have on communities and families. The consequences of corporate greed and manipulation that characterize CCA and GEO group not only impact families but also communities that are left to foot the bill when these companies pull out of prisons that aren’t making enough money and or have a lack of detainee bodies to fill their cells.

What does this mean for the Latino and the undocumented community at large? It’s unacceptable that CCA and the GEO Group are not only spending millions of dollars in lobbying efforts but also pocketing billions of dollars at the expense of human lives. This is a grave situation that is happening behind closed doors. CCA and the GEO Group don’t have to account for what they do.

This is simply inexcusable and should not be happening in this country. When will enough be enough? The Cuentame team challenges you to be a part of a movement that aims to uncover the facts and the consequences of entities like CCA, GEO Group and ALEC and challenge their greed.

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