A few weeks ago, yours truly reported on the state of private dollars in politics when it comes to the immigration debate. The gist was that it is beyond the pale and hardly democratic for politicians to contribute millions of dollars to politicians in return for political favors that see migrants locked up in detention centers whose for-profit nature leave detainees at risk of sexual assault, separation from family, deprivation of liberty (including for citizens), and even death.
One of the major corporate players is the GEO Group, a private prison company whose sole purpose is to create a demand for immigrant prisoners. In my last inquest into this immigration quagmire, I found that the "Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group, the two major players in the immigrant detention private prison lobby, had combined revenues in 2011 of $3 billion, with nearly half — $1.3 billion — coming directly from federal government." Open Secrets, a nonpartisan group which bills itself as the nation’s premier money tracking group following money in politics and outcomes on elections and public policy, points out that "the private prison industry is responsible for 16% of federal prisoners in the U.S., and makes a substantial portion of its profits from detention centers for illegal immigrants. Tougher laws would mean higher profits, while a path to citizenship could shrink revenues." That makes them a legitimate force to be reckoned with.
Not to be left out of the corporate frenzy to buy up naming rights to stadiums and sports centers (a trend sent up in hilarious satire by NPR this past April Fool’s Day), the GEO Group based in Boca Raton sought the naming rights to Florida Atlanta University’s stadium.
With a cushy offer of "a 12-year commitment with annual payments of $500,000," according to the Sun Sentinel, GEO Group would have gotten away with this affront to migrant people the world over if not for the efforts of a coalition of protesters.
"The announcement came as opposition to the deal, initiated by the student-led StopOwlcatraz! Coalition, gathered steam. The FAU Faculty Senate came out against the deal March 22. A national array of civil rights, immigrant and faith organizations issued a statement of opposition this morning," reported the Broward Palm Beach New Times.
The coalition had originally planned an April Fool’s Day gathering to "levitate the building," finding out instead that they had won the fight against GEO Group. Their victory statement said in part, "This shows that students, faculty and the community working together can speak out for justice and human rights and win —even against a $2 billion company and a university president."
Television comedian Stephen Colbert, did a segment on the situation which, obviously, is hilarious. Go ahead, check out what Colbert had to say about it.
Good for the StopOwlcatraz coalition! Good for the FAU faculty standing with their students. Good for the community around the country that stepped up to lend voice, time, money, and effort to stop this from moving forward. And love to Latino Rebels for linking this news on their Facebook page.