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Pressured by Anti-ICE Activists, Big Banks Abandon Private Corrections Companies


- August 21st, 2019
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Buckling under pressure from far-left anti-ICE groups, eight banks have publicly committed to ending their future financing relationships with the private corrections industry, including long established companies like CoreCivic and GEO Group.

CoreCivic owns and manages private prisons and detention centers and operates others on a concession basis. The company was founded in 1983. The Nashville-based company partners with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “to provide safe environments where detainees can reside as they go through their legal due process in the United States,” according to its mission statement.

Established in 1984, the GEO Group is a Florida-based company that specializes in privatized corrections, detention, and mental health treatment.

Eight banks–JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, SunTrust, BNP Paribas, Fifth Third Bancorp, Barclays, and PNC–have promised to discontinue their financing relationships with the companies after being targeted by anti-ICE groups, according to left-wing “public accountability” news site  Eyes on the Ties.

“Together these eight banks represent an estimated $2.35 billion – or 87.4% – of the credit lines and term loans that are central to these companies’ operations,” Eyes on the Ties reported.

This mass exodus of banks has had a cascading effect on the industry. Fitch Ratings, one of the three premier credit rating agencies, recently downgraded CoreCivic from BB+ to BB. This downgrade will make it more difficult for CoreCivic to secure the plentiful, cheap credit and loans they have accessed in the past.

Moreover, California’s $356 billion pension fund, CalPERS, is now considering divesting from the industry due to “egregious activities” at the border and the increased riskiness as banks continue to flee. Finally, CBS MoneyWatch reported that stock values for CoreCivic (CXW) and GEO Group (GEO) have been cut in half since April 2017.

Brian Moynihan, chairman and CEO of Bank of America told Fox Business in July that the bank made the decision “based on what our teammates tell us.”

He told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo that “because of their backgrounds and their thoughts” the “teammates” said Bank of America should “make a statement here.”

Eyes on the Ties credits ongoing campaigns from anti-ICE groups Families Belong Together and Backers Of Hate for pressuring Wall Street to stop financing the companies.

Families Belong Together is a coalition of nearly 250 left-wing organizations, including the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Women’s Refugee Commission, MomsRising, FWD.us, United We Dream, People’s Action, ACLU, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and MoveOn.  

Backers Of Hate is a left-wing pressure group that organizes boycotts against corporations that “stand to profit from Trump’s hateful agenda.”

Three PNC Banks in Manhattan closed down on July 10th in anticipation of a planned demonstration organized by anti-ICE activists.

Ostensibly fearing any disruption the activists might cause, PNC instead chose to close all three branches. The bank would not comment on the closures beyond stating that they were “in the best interest of our employees and our customers.”

Additionally, the effort targeting banks is supported by antifa, whose members have also targeted both CoreCivic and GEO Group facilities with protests, occupations and worse.

On July 13, an antifa supporter set a vehicle ablaze outside of a GEO-run detention facility in Tacoma, Washington.

GEO spokesman Pablo Paez said at the time that the incident was a result of the “factually inaccurate portrayal of our facilities.”

“Contrary to the images of other facilities on the news, our facilities have never been overcrowded, nor have they ever housed unaccompanied minors,” said Paez. “The GEO Group’s facilities, including the processing center in Tacoma, offer modern amenities with air conditioning, a bed for every individual, recreational activities, 24/7 medical care and access to legal services on the premises as we carry out our mission to provide the safest, most humane care possible.”

CoreCivic has a similar message on its website:

“Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about our company and immigrant detention. CoreCivic never has and never will house unaccompanied minors. Children are educated and never separated, balanced meals are planned by dieticians, and comprehensive medical and dental care is readily available.”

Damon Hininger, the CEO and President of CoreCivic told Fox Business host Lou Dobbs that the banks haven’t even cited a good reason for discontinuing their relationship with his company.

“The banks don’t have a good reason to not do business with us,” he said. “What’s frustrating is it’s the same business we’ve done with ICE for 35 years, even under President Obama. In my view, the banks are just playing politics.”

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