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04/27/2018 | Building an Immigrant Justice Initiative, Justice Transformation

New Report Investigates the Influential Role Major Wall Street Corporations Play in Private Prisons and Immigrant Detention Centers

Last week, the Center for Popular Democracy, Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change, Enlace International, and the Strong Economy for All Coalition released a report, “Bankrolling Oppression: How Wall Street Corporations Finance the Private Prison and Immigrant Detention Industry.” This report investigates the influential role that major Wall Street corporations - including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and BlackRock - play in maintaining and expanding the private prison and immigrant detention industry. As the Trump administration advances a “law and order” agenda and anti-immigrant policies, private prison companies are taking advantage of new opportunities to benefit from potential increases in incarceration and detention rates. Companies like JPMorgan, Wells, and BlackRock, are ready and willing to finance their operations and expansion, regardless of the cost in human suffering.

Specifically, the report shows that:

  • After Trump’s election, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and BlackRock saw a significant in shares in the private prison and immigrant detention industry. Comparing stock holdings now to those before the election, JPMorgan, Wells, and BlackRock’s shares in the private prison and detention industry have collectively increased 28.3 times.
  • GEO Group and CoreCivic, the two largest private prison companies, have borrowed billions of dollars from corporations like JPMorgan, Wells, and BlackRock to maintain and expand their facilities. At the end of 2017, nine of every ten dollars CoreCivic had on hand were borrowed. For GEO Group, it was nineteen of every twenty dollars.
  • In exchange for funding private prisons, Wall Street banks earn hundreds of millions of dollars in interest and fees. In 2017, lenders earned $217.5 million in interest.

Executives of Wells, JPMorgan, and BlackRock have publicly articulated a commitment to human rights, social responsibility, and the welfare of immigrants, and yet their financial entanglements clearly indicate otherwise.  By continuing to finance the debts that enable GEO Group and CoreCivic to operate and expand, and by continuing to invest in the industry, these companies are facilitating the abuses of the private prison and detention industry—and, by extension, the hateful policies of the Trump administration. Read the full report on our website.