Trump’s administration drags us into another week of fear mongering
July 9, 2019Three weeks ago, Trump tweeted that “millions” of unauthorized immigrants were going to be rounded up and deported. Within a few days it became clear that ICE was planning a major enforcement operation targeting 2,000 people, mostly families that had been issued final removal orders and may (or may not) still be in the country. By the end of that week Trump announced that the enforcement action had been delayed for two weeks and that unless Congress acted to change asylum laws, “deportations begin.”
Two weeks later and Trump is saying the operation will begin “soon.” Cuccinelli, acting head of U.S. Immigrant and Citizenship Services, not ICE, was on Face the Nation to defend the plan. Cuccinelli claimed that 1 million people have been issued final removal orders and are still in the country. All can be deported - though he admitted most would not be. The 1 million people are the “pool” of people who will be targeted. How many people will be deported, he would not say.
The talk of mass raids has spread fear in many communities - this fear ultimately being the point of the whole exercise. As many as 7,000 people a month are already deported as the result of internal removal operations (distinct from border deportations). Those operations continue. By throwing around numbers like a million or more immigrants being targeted, the administration is trying to scare people. Trump’s spokespeople are clear about this. Acting head of ICE, Mark Morgan, described the proposed operation as a “powerful message of deterrence” to those who might seek to come to the United States.
CBS News ran a story today about the impact of the threatened operation in Langley Park, Maryland. From the story:
Nick Katz and his Langley Park-based immigrant advocacy group CASA have been making sure local immigrants are aware of their rights and are operating a hotline for people to report ICE activity. He stressed, however, that it's important for them not to amplify the panic he believes the administration is looking to instill in immigrant communities.
"That's what they want," said Katz, an attorney who is the senior manager of CASA's legal services. "They want people to be afraid to go to the grocery story. They want people to self deport. They want immigrants to essentially be afraid to engage in the basic activities of life in this country."
Still, he said the danger for many immigrant families is real.
"ICE is out there breaking up families every day. And I have no doubt that these raids, there's definitely a danger they will move forward, and we'll see a period of time when even more people are picked up. So, there are real consequences for families," he said.
Companies profiting from immigrant detention, losing funding sources
Following the disclosure of inhumane conditions in detention facilities along the U.S. border in recent weeks (and years of disclosures, previously ignored), Congress will hold hearings on Friday about detention facilities. Heads of Border Patrol and Homeland Security are expected to testify, as well as members of the attorney delegation whose report on conditions in the Border Patrol’s Clint, Texas facility sparked much of the latest outrage.
Amid the increasing criticism of the conditions in facilities, SunTrust became the latest bank to announce they would no longer provide funding to private prison companies profiting from immigrant detention. Though Border Patrol detention facilities are not operated by private prison companies, nearly three-fourths of those people held by Immigrant and Customs Enforcement are in privately managed and/or owned facilities, CoreCivic and GeoGroup being the largest companies involved. Over the last year, numerous funders have announced they are cutting ties with these companies:
SunTrust did not specify what prompted its move, though its decision followed an online petition drive from various activist groups opposing the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement policies.
Bank of America staked out a similar position last month, just days after Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts announced her plans for banning private prisons. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. made similar commitments earlier this year.
“Following an ongoing and deliberate process, SunTrust has decided not to provide future financing to companies that manage private prisons and immigration holding facilities,” SunTrust said in a prepared statement. “This decision was made after extensive consideration of the views of our stakeholders on this deeply complex issue.”
The Geo Group’s stock price has taken a hit with every announcement - but seems to bounce back. It is capitalism, after all, someone will float their operations. But if all the bad publicity is increasing their cost of borrowing, and ultimately making it harder for them to profit, that is good news.