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by on August 15, 2011

I’m not sure how your family ended up in the country you’re in, but chances are that like my family, you immigrated.  If you did so recently in the United States, you had the pleasure of working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is about as friendly as its acronym.  ICE was “created in 2003 through a merger of the investigative and interior enforcement elements of the U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service,” and describes itself as the investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security.

To say ICE is unfriendly is not only a judgment call, it is backed up by repeated evidence.  ” Even though the Bonilla family members do not have criminal records, they face removal proceedings before an immigration judge. The family was able to find legal representation and general public support, enabling their release from ICE custody, but undocumented immigrants who are less lucky are routinely sent to prisons and detention centers where ICE will process their paperwork and decide whether they may be released…. What happened to the Bonillas has happened to thousands of immigrant families.”  Additionally, and just as importantly, ” the incarceration trend is not limited to public prisons. Thanks to a concerted lobbying push from the corrections industry, growing numbers of undocumented immigrants could end up in private detention facilities.”

Too few of us are familiar with ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), which is a lobbyist group advocating similar legislation in various states. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but “some of ALEC’s members are both the most ardent proponents of anti-immigration laws and representatives of the industries that will benefit directly from having more people behind bars.”  Specifically, “‘98% of ALEC’s funding comes from corporations like Exxon Mobil, corporate “foundations” like the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, or trade associations like the pharmaceutical industry’s PhRMA.'”…

“One of ALEC’s members is Corrections Corporation of America, the country’s largest for-profit prison company, founded in 1983. CCA designs, builds, manages and operates correctional facilities and detention centers on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the United States Marshal Service in nearly half of all states, according to the company’s website.”

That’s not all ALEC does, although that may cover the gist of its immigration policy.  ALEC was also behind the anti-union legislation in Wisconsin.  Internal ALEC emails to a Wisconsin member “give us a behind-the-scenes look at ALEC’s process, influence and the eventual policy that they produce. These emails were obtained from State Senator Leah Vukmir (while she was still a state representative) through an open records request that was made last year.”  That’s only the beginning.  “ALEC actively supports repealing the minimum wage, privatizing Social Security and replacing guaranteed health benefits with medical savings accounts. It gives large donations and other perks to legislators, most often reactionary Republicans, in states across the country to carryout corporate initiatives.”  It has also been a steadfast proponent of telecommunications deregulations and an opponent to Net neutrality.

The political battle in Wisconsin made the long-secret but very powerful Koch brothers famous.  In the same way, ALEC’s  practices have long remained hidden, playing a behind-the-scene role effectively using state-legislative stooges to implement the agenda of giant corporations and the super-rich.” Its time to shine a bright light on this organization.

From → US Politics

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