Business is Booming for the Prison Profiteers

by JAMES KILGORE, Counter Punch

Private corrections company The GEO Group celebrated the holiday season by opening a new 1,500 bed prison in Milledgeville, Georgia on December 12th. The $80 million facility is expected to generate approximately $28.0 million in annual revenues.

Though GEO (formerly Wackenhut) is hardly a household name, they are a major player in the private corrections sector, combining a self righteous amorality in profiting from human misery with a ruthless sense of just how to make a buck in this business. The GEO Group is so notorious that they were the target of an Occupy Washington D.C. action in early December. In addition,¬† the United Methodist Church sold off more than $200,000 in stock in GEO Group over the holiday season, judging that holding these shares was ‚Äúincompatible with Bible teaching.‚ÄĚ

While such actions may irritate a few within the company’s rank, the GEO Group is thick-skinned.  Over the years journalists have exposed a long history of violence, abuse and corruption in the company’s facilities.  Such scandals would have driven most firms out of business, but GEO has always managed to find the way back to prosperity. While the U.S. economy has plummeted in the past eighteen months, GEO has been positioning itself for the future.  In addition to opening the Georgia facility, during this period the company has: Continue reading

Six Undocumented Students Arrested for Protesting Georgia‚Äôs HB 87

by Julianne Hing

Six undocumented immigrant high school students‚ÄĒDulce Guerrero, Jessica Vasquez, Rolando Zenteno, Nataly Ibarra, Felipe Baeza and Leeidy Solis, some as young as 16 years old‚ÄĒhave been arrested by police while protesting the Georgia‚Äôs anti-immigrant law at the state capitol today.

A federal judge has issued a temporary block against two of the harshest provisions of Georgia’s new sweeping anti-immigrant law, HB 87, just days before the law is set to go into effect.

Most of the law still stands, and is set to go into effect later this week, on July 1. Today, a handful of Georgia undocumented immigrant youth are headed to Atlanta to protest the law and this afternoon plan to risk arrest by announcing their status in the state capitol. Continue reading

Really? A Raid on Father’s Day? ICE proves they can sink even lower

The strawberry festival was all but empty after a raid on dads at a family festival on Father's Day took place.

As if colluding with private prison companies to profit off of destroying families wasn’t enough, ICE upped their cold-heartedness (pardon the pun) with a sting on Dads during Father’s Day. ¬†Not only did ICE rip apart families in Glenwood Springs, Colorado on Father’s Day, they did it at a family festival!

The agency’s disdain for immigrants and basic human rights is to the point where they aren’t even following their own protocol which states that ¬†they must ‚Äúrefrain from conducting enforcement actions or investigative activities at or near sensitive community locations, such as schools, places of worship… and venues generally where children and their families may be present.‚ÄĚ

According to Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, ICE agents detained two brothers who were watching their kids play in a bouncy castle.

“Brothers Cesar and Julio Alvarez were then taken to an ICE van in the back of the fair, while their 4 children waited with their aunt and mother.”

The ICE agents went on to be jerks to the rest of the Alvarez family, putting Julio’s 7-month pregnant wife through so much stress she had to be sent to Emergency Care.

Community Rallies for Gerardo, Hearing Date Delayed to December 5th

Gerardo and his family received a warm and enthusiastic welcome this afternoon as around 100 people rallied to support them and to educate English speaking audiences about the injustices of the U.S.’s broken immigration system. ¬†Many students who have been fighting for the DREAM Act were in attendance. Thank you, Jeremy Bermudez of PAZ for a wonderful, rousing call to action! ¬†Also accompanying us were actors portraying banks and private prison corporations, ICE, with students chained by their interests.
After Gerardo spoke to the crowd, he and his family went in to immigration court, where his lawyer proceeded to apply for and receive an extension on Gerardo’s hearing. ¬†It is now scheduled for December 5th. You can be sure we’ll be there.
If you haven’t already signed the petition for Gerardo on United We Dream’s Website, please do so:
Also, we hope to see you at the following upcoming events:
Immigration Forum¬†at Denver’s First Universalist Church at Colorado and Hampden,¬†June 12, 11:30 to 2. ¬†This is a great opportunity for folks to learn what’s going on with deportations in the U.S. The program will be in English, and will feature RAP leaders Jeanette and Gerardo as well speaking via translator.

Jeanette’s Final Deportation Hearing¬†at Immigration Court, 17th and Welton,
July 13 at 8:30 a.m.  According to her wishes we want to bring an even bigger crowd this time, so be sure and mark your calendars

STOP The Deportation of Jeanette!

NOW is when we need your immediate support! As many of you know, one of RAP’s amazing leaders Jeanette Vizguerra, a mother of 4, wife, small business owner, and community activist, is facing her final immigration court date this coming Monday, May 16th.

That’s why we need you to JOIN us on JEANETTE‚ÄôS COURT DATE for a rally outside of the courthouse. We‚Äôll be gathering bright and early this Monday, May 16 at 7:30 a.m. in downtown Denver at the corner of 17th and Welton to rally for Jeanette and the thousands of others facing deportation. Program starts at 7:30am, actions will continue as Jeanette goes into the hearing.

Let’s stand in solidarity with Jeanette! Let’s speak out against the big business of deportations! NO one should profit from family’s pain!

WE need to make some noise and be the conscience of those who ignore or want to hide the truth!!

Take action NOW to send faxes to key targets before Friday at noon!
http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5016/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6797

More info call 303-893-3500 or liz@rap-dpt.org

Watch Jeanette’s story here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9M3ktorCBY

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AHORA es cuando necesitamos su apoyo inmediato! Como saben, un l√≠der incre√≠ble de RAP Jeanette Vizguerra, madre de 4 hijos, esposa, due√Īa de un negocio local, y activista de la comunidad, enfrenta su fecha final de corte de inmigraci√≥n el pr√≥ximo lunes 16 de Mayo.
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Colorado AID: A Case Study in Prison Abolition Praxis

The following is a reflective piece written by a member of Denver ABC.  Enjoy!

“Who are these dear friends who are falling like dry leaves?
Radio said, ‚ÄėThey are just deportees‚Äô‚ÄĚ Woody Guthrie (1)

‚Äú(The Office of Detention and Removal) provides the endgame to immigration enforcement and that is the removal of all removable aliens‚ÄĚ(2)

Abolish Inhumane Detention

The blunt quote above, taken from a key document produced by the Bureau of Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), exudes the blunt immigration policy of the United States.  I would even argue that it is nothing less than war being conducted on immigrants.(3)

Just take a quick gaze at our current social landscape and the picture begins to come into focus.  Border Patrol has constructed a highly militarized and technologically advanced border wall and is running immigration check points great distances inside of US borders.  A gap exists in the wall in the brutal Sonora desert in Arizona, funneling migrants into an environment that continues to claim thousands of lives.  Covertly or openly white supremacist paramilitaries are also patrolling the land, heightening the hostile environment.  ICE has a high functioning system of mass deportation that is centered around an archipelago of detention centers throughout the US.  Through legislature, the criminalization of immigrants continues to intensify.  All of this continues to be justified due to a dominant culture saturated with racist, xenophobic ideology.

Colorado’s front range has not been spared in this war and in fact continues to play a critical role in it.  The ICE raids at Greeley meatpacking plants in 2006 demonstrated to the entire country what the future held.(4)  Legally criminalizing immigrants through legislation like Secure Communities has also taken place here.  Most notably though is the large, privately-run ICE detention facility in Aurora that holds 1,100 beds.(5)  Supporting the many families in the Denver metro area surviving through this war is where the work of Colorado AID takes place.
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Seven Immigrant Youth Arrested in Atlanta

By Julianne Hing, Colorlines

On Tuesday afternoon at Georgia State University in Atlanta seven immigrant youth activists were arrested for blocking traffic while protesting a newly passed ban on undocumented immigrant students enrolling in the five most competitive public universities in Georgia. As of this morning, the students had yet to be released from jail and are awaiting a hearing this afternoon.

Georgina Perez, Viridiana Martinez, Jose Rico, Dayanna Rebolledo, Andrea Rosales, David Ramirez and Maria Marroquin were arrested. An eighth student, Dulce Guerrero, stepped out at the last moment to act as a media representative for the group. All are undocumented immigrant youth who said they’ve faced barriers to getting their education because of their immigration status. According to Mohammad Abdollahi, an undocumented immigrant activist who helped organize the protest, bond has been set at $2,000 for each person.

Read the rest here!

Border Patrol 6 Trial Begins

February 24, 2011

By Brenda Norrell

TUCSON ‚Äď Protesters who locked-down at Border Patrol headquarters in Tucson were in court on Wednesday. In the streets, two more protesters were arrested as O‚Äôodham and others demanded an end to border militarization, racist laws in Arizona and the US government’s reign of terror.

More than 40 protesters took to the streets and two were arrested, while six people who locked-down and occupied the US Border Patrol Tucson Headquarters on May 21, went on trial to fight charges of criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.

Indigenous in the struggle for justice released a communiqué calling for an end to the reign of terror on the border created by the US government and carried out by the Border Patrol and immigration agents.

‚ÄúThis terror manifests with the bones of thousands ‚Äď making the southern Arizona desert a graveyard, where the hopes and dreams of migrant families are stomped into the ground by border patrol agents, National Guard, Minutemen, and profiteering coyotes. Through the military strategy of terror and fear the state maintains power and control,‚ÄĚ stated the communiqu√©.

O‚Äôodham, whose graves and communities have been desecrated and destroyed by border militarization, sent this message to the Border Patrol: ‚ÄúWe are not afraid.”

Read the rest here, including a communique by the Border Patrol 6

Minuteman Vigilante Shawna Forde Convicted for Brisenia Flores‚Äô Murder

From Colorlines:

On February 14th a Pima County, Arizona, jury found Minuteman border vigilante Shawna Forde guilty on two counts of first-degree murder for killing nine-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father Raul Flores Jr. in May 2009, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

Forde was also convicted of attempted first-degree murder for shooting Brisenia’s mother Gina Gonzalez, along with other aggravated assault and robbery charges.

On May 30, 2009, Forde and two suspected accomplices woke up the Flores family and told them they were law enforcement officers. When Raul Flores Jr. questioned the intruders they stormed into the house and shot Flores and his wife. Gonzalez testified during the trial that after she was shot, she could hear her daughter ask the gunmen why they had shot her parents before Brisenia was shot twice, at point blank range. Gonzalez survived only by pretending she was dead, and then by crawling to the kitchen to find her husband’s gun and shoot at intruders when they returned.

Forde has ties to multiple right-wing groups, including the tea party, the Minutemen American Defense, a border vigilante group that polices the border with their own guns and surveillance equipment, and FAIR, the anti-immigration group that helped design Arizona’s SB 1070.

Her defense downplayed these associations, and instead tried to cast Forde as a boastful eccentric with big plans and little follow-through. The prosecution pointed to a recording of a phone call between Forde and an FBI informant, during which Forde made it clear that she planned the invasion.

‚ÄúPeople underestimate me all the time,‚ÄĚ Forde said on the phone call recording, the¬†Green Valley News and Sun reported.

Forde reportedly planned elaborate heists in order to fund her anti-immigration activism. When she was arrested, Forde was

found with Gonzalez’s wedding ring and other personal possessions.

During the defense‚Äôs closing arguments, the paper reported that Forde‚Äôs attorney Eric Lawson quoted a line from Shakespeare‚Äôs Macbeth as an apt description of Forde: ‚ÄúA tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.‚ÄĚ

Ultimately, the jury was unconvinced. They deliberated for seven hours over the course of two days. The jury will now be asked whether the death penalty should be sought for Forde’s crimes, the Arizona Daily Star reported. Forde’s accomplices Albert Gaxiola and Jason Bush face their own criminal trials later this year.

Border Patrol Headquarters Occupation Protesters to Fight Charges Group Calls for Further Action Against Border Militarization

Tucson, AZ¬†— On February 23, 2011, 2:00 PM at Tucson City Court, five of the six protesters who locked-down and occupied the US Border Patrol (BP) ‚Äď Tucson Headquarters on May 21, 2010 are going to trial fighting one count each of “criminal trespassing”. One of the six has chosen to take a diversion.

The action was taken, in part, to demand that BP, Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), their parent entity, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Obama administration end militarization of the border, end the criminalization of immigrant communities, and end their campaign of terror which rips families apart through increasing numbers of raids and deportations.

Alex Soto, one of the arrestees and member of O’odham¬†Solidarity¬†Across Borders states, “As we did not enter the BP headquarters alone but with prayers of O’odham elders and community supporters, we are asking for support once again for our continued stand against border militarization.¬†Our messaging is the reality for everyone that is forced to feel the pain that borders inflict upon us in our daily lives.

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