It doesn’t do migrants and refugees a service to pretend that white supremacy, capitalism and other forms of oppression aren’t intertwined.
Today Wayfair employees walked out to protest the company’s sales to the U.S. government and its contractor’s concentration camps (let’s call them what they are) based in Texas.
547 Wayfair employees signed a letter requesting that the online furniture retailer cancel the order of bedroom furniture and make a donation to RAICES, which provides free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees, but Wayfair’s billionaire CEO, Niraj Shah, rejected the demands and rather than donating to RAICES, donated to the Red Cross which actually doesn’t provide support to migrants being detained at the border and has a rather sketchy history of not actually using fundraised money for those who need it.
According to TIME magazine “the company received an order of more than $200,000 worth of bedroom furniture from BCFS, a non-profit network that contracts with the government. The order would send supplies to Carrizo Springs, Texas, where a facility is reportedly being prepared to ‘detain up to 3,000 migrant children.’”
“We believe that the current actions of the United States and their contractors at the Southern border do not represent an ethical business partnership Wayfair should choose to be a part of. We believe that by selling these (or any) products to BCFS or similar contractors we are enabling [child rights] violation and are complicit in furthering the inhumane actions of our government,” the employees’ letter states.
Migrants being detained at the border camps are suffering through abhorrent and inhumane conditions, so while we’re aware that Shah and Wayfair’s leadership is profiting from human misery and human rights’ violations, it’s important for us to be aware of the other private citizens, politicians, and companies who are enriching themselves while others are ripped away from their families and confined in overcrowded cages.
We’re aware that the U.S. government has been tracking and detaining migrants since before the Trump Administration and according to a 2018 article by In These Times, ICE spent close to $1.7 billion on close to 5000 contractors in 2017.
Wear Your Voice wanted to put together a list of the known companies and politicians profiting from the camps — the list is non-exhaustive and we will update it with new information. We encourage you to divest from them, protest, write letters and call others to action.
Companies profiting and complicit in the creation and maintenance of the concentration camps (and the prison industrial complex):
GEO Group and CoreCivic: In These Times reports that the two leaders in the private prison industry, GEO Group, and CoreCivic also manage the concentration camps and migrant detention centers throughout the U.S. and in 2017 they earned a combined $985 million from ICE contracts. Both companies donated $250,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee with GEO Group also donating $225,000 to a Trump Super PAC in the 2016 election according to The Observer.
Geo Group Inc: George Zoley CEO of GEO Group and the primary shares of the company are owned by The Vanguard Group, Blackrock, Barrow Hanley Mewhinney & Strauss, Hotchkis & Wiley Capital Management, Artemis Investment Management (source)
Core Civic: Damon Hiniger is the CEO of CoreCivic, a major architect of the prison industrial complex and he has a Twitter account for us to voice our strong hatred of the multimillions he has made as a dealer in death and torture.
The five biggest shareholders of CoreCivic are The Vanguard Group, Blackrock, Fidelity/FMR LLC, State Street Corp., and Prudential Financial Inc. Also of note, Wells Fargo owns a large number of shares despite no longer loaning money to CoreCivic. More shareholders can be tracked here.
BCFS: The primary company being protested by Wayfair workers. In 2018, the New York Times reported that BCFS “has received at least $179 million in federal contracts since 2015 under the government’s so-called unaccompanied alien children program, designed to handle migrant youths who arrive in the country without a parent or other family member.”
Southwest Key: “Southwest Key Programs has won at least $955 million in federal contracts since 2015 to run shelters and provide other services to immigrant children in federal custody. Its shelter for migrant boys at a former Walmart Supercenter in South Texas has been the focus of nationwide scrutiny, but Southwest Key is but one player in the lucrative, secretive world of the migrant-shelter business,” reports the New York Times, “About a dozen contractors operate more than 30 facilities in Texas alone, with numerous others contracted for about 100 shelters in 16 other states.”
More on the founder and former CEO of Southwest Key, Juan Sánchez can be read here.
General Dynamics: One of the largest defense contractors in the U.S. and according to Quartz, “The company may not have a role in border policy, but it does have influence in Washington. General Dynamics CEO Phebe Novakovic, who made $21 million in total compensation last year, is a former CIA officer, and the company spent more than $11 million last year lobbying lawmakers and executive agencies.”
MVM Inc.: MVM is a Virginia-based defense contractor, which received contracts worth up to $248 million to transport immigrant children since 2014, according to a report for Reveal by investigative reporter, Aura Bogado. MVM is the contractor responsible for holding immigrant children overnight in a Phoenix office building where a neighbor saw detained children bathing in bathroom sinks, Bogado reported in 2018.
CSI Aviation: This company was contracted to run charter deportation flights.
The Nakamoto Group: ICE also contracts out its inspections of migrant detention centers and The Nakamoto Group approved substandard (read inhumane) facilities.
Deloitte: The global management consultant company earned an $18 million contract with ICE in 2017 for case management at the migrant detention facilities.
Johns Hopkins University: The Baltimore-based university has three contracts with ICE totaling more than $1.7 million, all of which are set to expire this year. According to the Baltimore Sun the contracts are mostly for “educational programs that provide emergency medical training and leadership education.” Students and staff at the school have called on university officials to end their relationship with the agency.
Bethany Christian Services: In June 2018 news broke that the anti-choice, homophobic adoption and foster non-profit had links to the Trump administration’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The group fostered out at least 81 migrant children taken from their parents at the U.S. border and given the lack of government accountability, the move to place these children in foster care has been compared to state-sponsored kidnapping which falls in line with the U.S.’s history of stealing Black people, Black children from their parents, and indigenous children.
Tech Companies Profiting From ICE Contracts:
Salesforce: Salesforce has a software contract with Customs and Border Protection and according to In These Times, Salesforce attempted to rehabilitate its image by donating $250,000 to RAICES, which rejected their money stating that “when it comes to supporting oppressive, inhumane, and illegal policies … the only right action is to stop.”
Microsoft: Microsoft handles ICE’s data processing
Pen-Link: A surveillance firm called Pen-Link provides ICE with “real-time tracking” through cell phone and geolocation data.
Amazon and Palantir: In collaboration with tech company Palantir (owned by Trump supporter, Peter Thiel), Amazon provides its facial recognition software to the company which according to Gizmondo they had “heavily marketed its Rekognition software to police departments and government agencies. The technology can recognize and track faces in real time, and the ACLU noted that such a powerful surveillance tool could easily be misused by law enforcement.”
Amazon employees sent CEO Jeff Bezos a letter in June 2018 protesting the decision to work with ICE and ICE contractor Palantir. “In the face of this immoral U.S. policy, and the U.S.’s increasingly inhumane treatment of refugees and immigrants beyond this specific policy, we are deeply concerned that Amazon is implicated, providing infrastructure and services that enable ICE and [the Department of Homeland Security],” they wrote.
Comcast and Time Warner Cable: Both Internet and cable providers supply ICE with internet access.
Thomson Reuters Special Services: A subsidiary of the news company Thomson Reuters has a $4.7 million contract with ICE for its Web of Science subscription services and according to Money, they also have a $2.1 million purchase order with ICE for “risk mitigation services,” as well as a $126,000 one for “consulting services.”
CEO Stephen Rubley also happens to be a board member of the ICE Foundation which “supports employees, runs awareness campaigns, helps victims and gives financial aid to families of agents killed or wounded on the job, among other things.”
Motorola: The communications company had a $3 million contract with ICE (from 2016 until March 2019) for a “core upgrade/GPS project/mobility project,” and they were also awarded a contract for a communications program totalling approximately $15.3 million.
Canon has several contracts with ICE that cover the cost of copier repairs.
Dell Federal Systems LP, which is a branch of the computer and software manufacturing company, has multiple contracts with ICE for software.
Banks Providing Loans to GEO Group and CoreCivic and Profiting Off The Migrant Crisis:
According to a 2016 report conducted by In The Public Interest, there were six banks funding GEO Group and Core Civic and bankrolling the construction and maintenance of these for-profit prison companies. More recently, following similar moves by Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America announced that it would cease lending to companies that run private prisons and detention centers. However, it must be noted that loans are different from holding stock, which as of October 2018, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo still did.
JPMorgan Chase: “JPMorgan has increased its stockholdings in Geo Group and CoreCivic 15,600 percent.” according to In These Times.
Some of the politicians and political bodies who are benefitting from the migrant detention camps:
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: the campaign arm for the House Democrats took a $10,000 donation from private prison company Geo Group in Nov. 2017 and over $350,000 throughout the 2018 midterm election campaigns bundled by lobbyists connected to GEO Group or CoreCivic, records show.
Rep. John Culberson: The GEO Group’s PAC and executives have given $32,900 to the Houston Republican, this makes them his largest donor. The other private prison company, CoreCivil gave Culberson $11,000.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar: The democratic politician received $32,400 form GEO Group. CoreCivic gave Cuellar $1,500.
Rep. John Carter: received $31,600 from GEO Group.
According to Esquire, both Culberson and Cuellar serve on the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, which funds private immigration detention centers. The article also stated that “Culberson is also the chairman of and Carter serves on the House Appropriations subcommittee on commerce, justice, and science, which oversees funding for private prisons.”
It doesn’t do migrants and refugees a service to pretend that white supremacy, capitalism and other forms of oppression aren’t intertwined. Divesting from these companies, calling them out, protesting them, shaming them for choosing profit over human dignity, is necessary. Staying silent is a form of complicity and there are over 40,000 migrants who cannot wait for us to be stirred into action. We must do something now.
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