[OP-ED] Republicans: Nothing Wrong with Private Prisons and Slave Labor
It would have been hard to imagine it a few years ago, but this is the era of Trump, and nothing is surprising anymore, not even that 18 GOP congressmen could have written a letter defending slave labor.
Yes, slave labor. That’s what is taking place in the private immigration prisons where detainees are forced –I repeat, forced-- to work for $1 a day or even less, while the owners make billions from their suffering with the complicity of greedy politicians.
And that’s what greedy politicians like the 18 men -they are all men— who wrote a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the boss of ICE and the Department of Labor demanding that private prisons be allowed to keep their shameful abuse and exploitation of immigrants are intent on preserving.
Forced labor, the legislators wrote, is good for immigrants. Not for the billionaire private prison industry, or for them, always willing to sell their souls to the highest-paying devil, but for immigrants. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up.
The GEO Group, the largest and more profitable of the companies involved in incarcerating immigrants in deplorable conditions for months and even years, is being sued by former inmates who allege that paying detained immigrants $1 a day or less breaks a law against human trafficking.
Yet, the Republican legislators, blind to morality and human solidarity, can’t see anything wrong with that and, in a sickening display of hypocrisy are calling for Sessions and the other letter recipients to help the gigantic company defend itself against the immigrants. Definitely, you can’t make this stuff up.
So voters won’t forget them, this is the shameful list of the Republican “leaders” who signed the letter: Lamar Smith, Jody Hice, Matt Gaetz, Steve King, Mike Rogers, Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert, Dana Rohrabacher, Paul Cook, Scott Taylor, Earl “Buddy” Carter, John Ratcliffe, Duncan Hunter, Bob Gibbs, Barry Loudermilk, Brian Babin, and John Rutherford.
Coming to think of it, there is nothing surprising about the congressmen love affair with a business that profits from depriving as many people as possible from their freedom. After all, the GEO Group Inc., and the other industry titan, CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corp. of America, have generously contributed more than $10 million to aspiring politicians since 1989 and distributed $25 million more through lobbying.
Such largesse has not been in vain. A Justice Policy Institute report cited by Michael Cohen in the Washington Post, reveals that these companies’ profits have gone to the roof.
“They now rake in a combined $3.3 billion in annual revenue and the private federal prison population more than doubled between 2000 and 2010,” Cohen wrote. “Private companies house nearly half of the nation’s immigrant detainees, compared to about 25% a decade ago.” In total, Cohen added, there are now about 130 private prisons in the country with about 157,000 beds.
Under Trump, who has made persecuting and terrorizing immigrants the centerpiece of his administration, the despicable industry is poised to do even better. Private prisons, Trump has said, “seem to work a lot better.”
As I wrote a while ago, the crass Mr. Trump is right: Private prisons work a lot better, but only for the corporations that make billions off the suffering of thousands of powerless families. And for the many greedy racists in Congress always willing to sell their souls to the highest paying devil.