Immigrants for sale

Immigrants for sale

by digby

I didn't know about the prison industry sponsoring these anti-immigrant laws, but it is really shocking. And sick:

NPR did an expose about this last fall if you're interested in more of the details:

Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law

by Laura Sullivan

October 28, 2010

Last year, two men showed up in Benson, Ariz., a small desert town 60 miles from the Mexico border, offering a deal.

Glenn Nichols, the Benson city manager, remembers the pitch.

"The gentleman that's the main thrust of this thing has a huge turquoise ring on his finger," Nichols said. "He's a great big huge guy and I equated him to a car salesman."

What he was selling was a prison for women and children who were illegal immigrants.

"They talk [about] how positive this was going to be for the community," Nichols said, "the amount of money that we would realize from each prisoner on a daily rate."

But Nichols wasn't buying. He asked them how would they possibly keep a prison full for years — decades even — with illegal immigrants?

"They talked like they didn't have any doubt they could fill it," Nichols said.

That's because prison companies like this one had a plan — a new business model to lock up illegal immigrants. And the plan became Arizona's immigration law.

Behind-The-Scenes Effort To Draft, Pass The Law

The law is being challenged in the courts. But if it's upheld, it requires police to lock up anyone they stop who cannot show proof they entered the country legally.

When it was passed in April, it ignited a fire storm. Protesters chanted about racial profiling. Businesses threatened to boycott the state.

Supporters were equally passionate, calling it a bold positive step to curb illegal immigration.

But while the debate raged, few people were aware of how the law came about.

NPR spent the past several months analyzing hundreds of pages of campaign finance reports, lobbying documents and corporate records. What they show is a quiet, behind-the-scenes effort to help draft and pass Arizona Senate Bill 1070 by an industry that stands to benefit from it: the private prison industry.

Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce, pictured here at Tea Party rally on Oct. 22, was instrumental in drafting the state's immigration law. He also sits on a American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) task force, a group that helped shape the law. The law could send hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to prison in a way never done before. And it could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to private prison companies responsible for housing them.

Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce says the bill was his idea. He says it's not about prisons. It's about what's best for the country.

"Enough is enough," Pearce said in his office, sitting under a banner reading "Let Freedom Reign." "People need to focus on the cost of not enforcing our laws and securing our border. It is the Trojan horse destroying our country and a republic cannot survive as a lawless nation."

But instead of taking his idea to the Arizona statehouse floor, Pearce first took it to a hotel conference room.

It was last December at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C. Inside, there was a meeting of a secretive group called the American Legislative Exchange Council. Insiders call it ALEC.

It's a membership organization of state legislators and powerful corporations and associations, such as the tobacco company Reynolds American Inc., ExxonMobil and the National Rifle Association. Another member is the billion-dollar Corrections Corporation of America — the largest private prison company in the country.

It was there that Pearce's idea took shape.

"I did a presentation," Pearce said. "I went through the facts. I went through the impacts and they said, 'Yeah.'" read on...

Who says America doesn't know how to innovate anymore?

That sheds some light on this odd story I got from one of my wingnut emailers. At the time it it struck me a strange. Now I get it:

The Border Patrol’s practice of detecting but not apprehending illegal immigrants — known as “Turn Back South” — is in effect far north of the U.S.-Mexico border, Arizona Sheriff Larry Dever claimed in congressional testimony Tuesday morning.

“It appears, according to numerous reports from current and former border agents, that this practice has gravitated many miles north of the border. That means that, regardless of proximity to the border, people who are detected but not caught are considered to be “Turned Back South,” Dever said in his written testimony before the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security.

Last month, first reported that Dever said he’d been told by Border Patrol officials, including at least one senior supervisor, that they have been ordered to reduce and to sometimes stop arresting people attempting to cross into the U.S. illegally.

Homeland Security officials, including Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher, have repeatedly denied these claims, but a flood of current and retired Border Patrol agents from across the country continue to come forward with details of their own that support Dever’s initial remarks.

Dever leveled another new charge: That TBS-ing is going on within the American judicial system.

You see, this is the right's idea of a jobs program --- building prisons for illegal immigrants and charging the taxpayers for it. And the Feds are ruining it by shipping their "product" back to Mexico.

Update: I can hardly believe it, but that same hardcore authoritarian Sheriff, Larry A. Dever, has an op-ed in the NY Times today. I wonder how much he expects to make from this scam?