Home > corporate accountability, immigration & asylum, U.S. courts > Private Prison Industry Played A Heavy Hand in Arizona Immigration Law, NPR Reports

Private Prison Industry Played A Heavy Hand in Arizona Immigration Law, NPR Reports

November 3, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

NPR reports that controversial Arizona immigration law S.B. 1070 was drafted and lobbied for in significant part by the private prison industry, through conservative organization the American Legislative Exchange Council, which brings together members of industry and politicians, including Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce. [Salt Lake City Weekly]  CCA, the country’s largest private prison company, participated in discussions of the idea behind the eventual bill from an early stage, and stood to benefit from future contracts to build or run immigration detention centers under the new law, which – if contested provisions are upheld at the end of an ongoing constitutional challenge – would allow local law enforcement to conduct warrantless arrests of individuals suspected of being undocumented aliens.  In addition, CCA and other private prison companies donated heavily to Arizona legislators who supported the bill and CCA reportedly has close ties to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s administration. [Salt Lake City Weekly]

CCA, which operates more than half the immigration detention centers in the country, has been criticized for its employment practices and conditions of detention, and has been on the receiving end of numerous civil rights complaints by prisoners and other litigation, including a class action suit filed in 2000 to enjoin CCA’s alleged practice of colluding with telephone companies to increase the cost to inmates to make phone calls, with financial gain going to CCA. [Tucscon Citizen; CCR; Mother Jones].

A constitutional challenge brought by the Federal government against enforcement of the Arizona law is pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard oral arguments this week on Arizona’s appeal of the District Court’s injunction against several provisions of the law.  The Arizona Republic reported that the judges seemed inclined to rule in favor of Arizona on some provisions, but in the Federal government’s favor on others.

The growth of the private prison industry has come under intense scrutiny in several contexts, including immigration detention and the Iraq war.  In response to the Arizona story, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association warned on Election Day yesterday that voters “should be just as worried about the things they don’t see – the unknown forces influencing decisions at all levels of government.”

Relatedly, the Latin America News Dispatch reports that deportations of undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions are at a record high in the United States and have increased 70% under the Obama Administration, due in large part to the Secure Communities program, through which local law enforcement provides biometric data to federal immigration authorities to determine the immigration and criminal backgrounds of individuals arrested by local authorities, with a view to increasing deportation of removable aliens convicted of violent or drug-related offenses.  However, the program has been criticized as encouraging racial profiling, distracting local law enforcement from their primary duties, and accelerating deportations  – including of thousands of migrants arrested for petty offenses such as traffic violations who have no prior criminal history – without waiting for legislative overhaul of immigration law. [ACLU; NYT]  Last week, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, Center for Constitutional Rights and Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic of Cardozo Law sought an injunction in federal court to require the federal immigration agency, ICE, to disclose information on how communities may opt-out of the Secure Communities program. [Florida Independent; CCRJanet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, has stated that opt-out is not available and all local law enforcement agencies must begin participating in the program by 2013.

For more information on immigration policy and immigrant detention in the United States, see the IACHR’s Special Rapporteurship on Migrant Workers and Their Families, the ACLU, Amnesty International, the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the Migration Policy Institute, and the International Organization for Migration.


  1. Montana
    November 8, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    “Prop. 200”, “House Bill 2013″ and “SB1070″

    0 = Arizona
    3 = USA/ Our Constitution/ We the People of the United States

    We are a country that is ruled by the Constitution (with all Amendments), and the Declaration of Independence, not by the majority of the day. When the uneducated do not know the principles in these documents, therein lays the problem in losing, so no one should be surprised when the dullards lose in court after being smartly challenged.

    Last month of October 2010, our Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Arizona’s requirement that people show proof of citizenship to register to vote or the 2004, “Prop. 200”. In the month of July 2010, our U.S. Federal courts have found the so called State of Arizona hate filled legislation namely “House Bill 2013″ and “SB1070″ Un-constitution (So much for the intellect of Jan Brewer, “Did you read the bills you signed?”). But we all know that they will go crying to the Supreme Court of the United States, please, please, please go. We will fight you in Arizona, any other state, and yes in Washington DC. We will not tire, we will not be silent and we will persevere, I promise you.

    In my opinion the Republican Party has been taken over the most extreme of clans; the Baggers, Birthers and Blowhards (people who love to push their beliefs and hate on others while trying to take away the rights of those they just hate) and that’s who they need to extract from their party if they real want to win in November. Good Luck, because as they said in WACO, “We Ain’t Coming Out”.

    I know the proponents of this law say that the majority approves of these laws, but the majority is not always right. Would women or non-whites have the vote if we listen to the majority of the day, would the non-whites have equal rights (and equal access to churches, housing, restaurants, hotels, retail stores, schools, colleges and yes water fountains) if we listen to the majority of the day? We all know the answer, a resounding, NO! You were all wrong then and you are wrong now!

    I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by people of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all people are created equal, and that the rights of every person are diminished when the rights of one person are threatened. All of us ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated, but this is not the case.

    Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. In a time of domestic crisis people of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics and do what is right, not what is just popular with the majority. Some people comprehend discrimination by never have experiencing it in their lives, but the majority will only understand after it happens to them.

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