As it turns out, there’s a trail of money linking President Donald Trump to some of the facilities housing migrant children and families.
The New York Times published a report that reveals Trump’s inauguration fund collected $500,000 from two private prison companies that are currently housing detained migrants.
Additionally, at least one of the contractors has a prominent Republican lobbyist on payroll who is connected to the Trump administration.
The Geo Group and CoreCivic are the two private prison companies that each donated $250,000 to Trump’s inaugural fund.
Furthermore, the Geo Group’s bipartisan political action committee tends to give many of its biggest donations to Republicans, which includes $170,000 to a joint fund-raising committee set up between the Trump campaign and the Republican Party. The company also contributed $50,000 to a “super PAC” that supports Trump.
But that’s not all — the Geo Group also employs lobbyist Brian Ballard, who previously lobbied for Trump’s golf courses in Florida before he became the president. Ironically enough, a disclosure form indicated that as a representative of the Geo Group, Ballard is now registered to lobby about “immigration regulation.”
The Geo Group issued a statement defending its connections to Trump, maintaining that its family center has “cared exclusively for mothers together with their children since 2014 when it was established by the [President Barack] Obama administration.”
The company also insists that its political contributions “should not be construed as an endorsement of all policies or positions adopted by any individual candidate,” adding that it does “not take a position on nor have we ever advocated for or against criminal justice or immigration policies.”
While it’s true that companies like the Geo Group and CoreCivic have had federal contracts to work with migrant children for many years before Trump became president, the Trump administration’s new emphasis on stopping the “catch and release” practices by holding detainees for longer periods of time has helped the business of housing and caring for migrant children become a more flourishing industry.
It doesn’t take a genius to surmise that there is clearly a mutually beneficial relationship between the Trump administration and these companies.
In fact, even Trump’s recent executive order to keep migrant families together is more of an advantage than an obstacle for these facilities because it will likely spark the need for another round of contracts to be distributed to expand the number of family detention centers.
Steve Owen, a spokesman for CoreCivic, spoke out in defense of the company’s donation to Trump’s inauguration. Owen claimed that the contribution was “consistent with our past practice of civic participation in and support for the inauguration process.”
He added that “under longstanding policy, CoreCivic does not draft, lobby for, promote or in any way take a position on proposals, policies or legislation that determine the basis or duration of an individual’s incarceration or detention.”
Be that as it may, it’s a bit tough to believe that either of these companies would stand up to Trump’s inhumane immigration policies when they’re lining their pockets as a result of them.
The nonprofit and religious groups operating detention centers have also found a slice of the pie in their connections to Trump’s cronies.
Education secretary Betsy DeVos has provided funding to Bethany Christian Services, which is a social services group that provides foster care to migrant children. Over the course of many years, the organization has accepted more than $419,000 in grants from DeVos’ family foundation.
However, Bethany rejects the notion that DeVos’ contributions influence their work in any way. The group also expressed concern over the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy and maintains that, “We believe that all children belong with their families.”
The group added that it works with federal agencies to “reunify unaccompanied and separated children with their families as soon as possible.”
Alas, it may be wise to take the statements from these groups with a grain of salt considering it isn't likely they would even admit if money and political ties were, indeed, influencing their businesses to the degree that they would turn a blind eye to racist policies that dehumanize and separate migrant families.
Banner / Thumbnail : CBP / via Reuters