Sanders and Clinton Agree

April 25, 2016 7:19 am
by David Jakeman

Immigration has been a hot topic in the Republican and Democratic campaigns, and Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have both come out swinging about the use of private companies to run prisons across the nation. Countless federal prisons and immigration detention centers are run by private companies, including the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. Immigration attorneys have become well acquainted with complaints about the private companies, and it’s a hot topic for democrats as well.

On the Campaign Trail

Both Clinton and Sanders have spoken out forcefully on the topic of private companies running prisons and detention centers. Sanders, not surprisingly, has been very direct in his opinion: “In my view, corporations should not be allowed to make a profit by building more jails and keeping more Americans behind bars.” He added, “Criminal justice and public safety are, without a doubt, the responsibility of the citizens of our country, not private corporations, and they should be carried out by those who answer to voters, not those who answer to investors.”

Sanders has long expressed a distrust in the pernicious effects of Wall Street on the practices of many areas of the U.S. economy and government. His populist message has gained many supporters across the country, in a surprising challenge to the assumed nominee of Clinton. Given the track record of many private companies running detention centers, his opinion is not without merit.

For her part, Clinton also believes that the privatization of prisons and detention centers should end. She has said, “we should end private prisons and private detention centers” while campaigning. She and Sanders have both been concerned with the number of detention centers run by private companies.

Government Immigration Detention Center Policies

Tough words alone are not going to solve the issue. If either candidate were to take the White House, they would have a steep hill to climb to get it changed. A number of private prisons are not federal contracts, but state and local. Privately-run prisons and detention centers are also big money makers, and the private contractors are sure to flex their lobbying muscles to make sure the status quo remains.

GEO Group, which runs the Northwest Detention Center, is estimated to have a market cap at $2 billion; along with the larger CCA, it is estimated to control over two-thirds of the private prison industry contacts. The one silver lining is that mass incarceration is increasingly seen by both sides of the political spectrum as a massive failure and incredibly expensive. If scandals over private companies continue to mount, and if public taxes don’t reflect much savings, then there might be an opening to reverse course on privatized detention centers.1 Tacoma immigration lawyers are keeping a close watch on the presidential race and the opinions being expressed on immigration detention centers.

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