The GEO Group scored a $110-million deal from the U.S. Government to build an immigrant detention center in Texas.
The private prison company currently runs 143 such facilities around the world. In a news release, GEO said it would build and run the new 1,000-bed facility under a 10-year contract. Based on the company’s projections, the center should “generate approximately $44 million in annualized revenues and returns on investment.”
The immigrant detention center is the first federal contract awarded by the Trump Administration.
The contract has elicited major concerns among immigrant rights groups. GEO, the second-largest U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contractor, reportedly has 3,000 empty beds currently awaiting undocumented immigrants. In addition, they already operate a similar facility in the town where the new detention center is supposed to be built.
The Washington Post recently reported that, “the agency (ICE) has already found 33,000 more detention beds to house undocumented immigrants.” But, U.S. President Donald Trump has already enacted an expansion of the immigration system. Trump hopes to incorporate what is dubbed as a “deportation force,” for which the government will hire thousands of additional border guards and ICE agents.
According to a USA Today report, GEO contributed $250,000 to Trump’s inauguration. Another $225,000 was also given to a super PAC by a GEO subsidiary. These contributions prompted watchdog group Campaign Legal Center to formally report them as breaches of the funding restriction policy.
4 Years After Bangladesh Rana Plaza Disaster, Workers Unsafe
It’s been four years since the eight-story building at the Rana Plaza complex collapsed in Bangladesh claiming over 1,134 lives and injuring 2,500 garment factory workers. And yet well over half of the western retail brands who have their sweatshops in the country fail to comply with basic safety regulations.
The collapse showed the grim working conditions in the factories. There are around 4,000 factories employing nearly 4 million workers, with a revenue of nearly US$25 billion each year from exports predominantly catering to the U.S. and European markets. Economic exploitation, hazardous conditions, lack of transparency and responsibility continue to remain the norm inside the world ‘s second-largest garment industry.
Following the collapse, the retail companies joined the U.N. and the Bangladesh government to help improve work conditions. The government hired over 350 new factory inspectors and passed legislation setting up a workers’ welfare fund and allowing stronger union representation, AP reported. The brand representatives from the European and U.S. retail companies visited the region to suggest improvements.
But the fashion corporate giants continue to exploit and put workers’ lives at risk. According to a recent study by Sarah Labowitz and Dorothee Baumann-Pauly published by New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, since 2015, 3,425 inspections have taken place in Bangladesh, out of which only eight factories passed the inspections, Deutsche Welle reported. The report also added the companies are unwilling to pay for the very basic amenities such as improvements in electrical equipment.
According to a report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch, only 29 companies out of 72 contacted released the information on work and safety conditions in their factories. Last year, these clothing and footwear companies were contacted by a coalition of labor and human rights organizations seeking a transparency pledge urging them to adhere to disclosure of a minimum standard of publishing the supply chain information. But only 17 companies are actually meeting the minimum disclosure standard.
Based on interviews with over 1,000 survivors, a recent study by Action Aid said that nearly half of the survivors from the tragedy remain unemployed. Action Aid Bangladesh Director, Farah Kabir said that in addition to the financial or rehabilitation issues, the survivors were also suffering from social and psychological stress.
Nearly 79 percent of those interviewed stated that they would open a small business rather than go back to being a garment factory worker, while only a meager 4.8 percent said they would go back to working in the factories.
The Dominican Republic’s April Revolution Remembered
Today marks 52 years since the revolution in the Dominican Republic that led to the overthrow of the U.S.-backed triumvirate headed by General Elias Wessin y Wessin, a protege of assassinated dictator Rafael Trujillo.
Wessin y Wessin, who ousted the government of President Juan Bosch, a liberal poet and long time enemy of Trujillo in 1963, was also a staunch anti-communist, outlawing communist writings.
But the workers didn’t give up after the coup as they continued protests until finally on April 24, 1965, a group of soldiers under the leadership of Colonel Francisco Caamaño rose up and took control of the national palace and the national armory along with major television and radio stations.
The soldiers and their supporters called themselves the Constitutionalists and they aimed to reinstate Bosch’s government. As a result of clashes between the military and the Constitutionalists, many people were killed.
The Constitutionalists distributed arms to the general population to fight against the military forces, which led to the revolutionary overthrow of the military-installed government.
The U.S., with its tentacles deep in Dominican affairs, invaded the Caribbean nation on April 28 and also pressured Honduras, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Brazil to send troops. In a matter of days, the U.S. had 23,000 troops in the country. The Constitutionalists and the people were defeated.
At the time, Caamaño, said, “The war would be already over if the U.S. had not intervened.”
In 1966, the U.S. helped staged fraudulent elections to calm the masses, bringing to power Joaquin Balaguer, under whose rule the paramilitary death squads targeted the poor workers and campesinos who constituted the majority of the revolutionary movement.
Caamaño faced a series of death threats that sent him into exile, first in the U.K. and then Cuba. Camano returned to the Dominican Republic in 1973 to overthrow Balaguer’s regime but was killed by the repressive forces.