May 2019 immigration news update

News Articles on Key Issues: April-May 2019

 

US Customs and Border Protection: Unprecedented Volumes Of Aliens Continue To Arrive As Thousands Enter Deep South Texas

 

U.S. Border Patrol agents continue to process and receive unprecedented numbers of illegal aliens entering the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Sector. On May 4, agents from Brownsville to Roma apprehended over 2,400 illegal aliens, the majority of which consist of family units and unaccompanied children who readily turn themselves in to agents. Over the past week, more than 10,000 illegal aliens were apprehended, making it one of the highest weekly totals ever experienced in this sector. Currently, stations and processing centers are holding more than 7,000 illegal aliens in custody. On May 4, the 40,000-square foot Donna Temporary Facility went operational to assist in holding family units pending transfer to ICE or Health and Human Services-Office of Refugee Resettlement custody.


ShareBlue: Judge Gives Trump Officials 6 Months To Find Every Child They Stole


On Thursday (April 25), U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, gave administration officials six months to identify every single immigrant child they separated as part of the zero-tolerance policy. The order is a rebuke of the administration, which had asked the court for up to two years to find all the children stolen from their families at the border. The ruling is part of an ongoing legal battle between the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the administration over thousands of children forcibly separated from their parents in 2017 and 2018. In January 2019, the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services warned that "thousands of children" — in addition to the 2,737 children previously identified as taken from their parents — may have been separated in 2017.


Washington Post: White House Asks Congress For $4.5 Billion In Emergency Spending At Border



The White House sent Congress a $4.5 billion emergency spending request on Wednesday (May 1), citing an unfolding “humanitarian and security crisis” at the U.S.-Mexico border as record numbers of Central American families and children seek entrance to the United States. The request includes $3.3 billion for humanitarian assistance and $1.1 billion for border operations. The money would be in addition to the more than $8 billion that President Trump asked for in his 2020 budget request to build border barriers, as well as some $6 billion in funding he sought as he declared a national emergency at the border earlier this year. The request also includes $377 million for the Pentagon and National Guard for their operations along the border.
From October through March, DHS has apprehended more than 360,000 migrants illegally crossing the border — 187,000 more than the same period in the previous fiscal year, the administration says. At the current rate, DHS apprehensions will approach 1 million in fiscal year 2019. The supplemental request would expand the administration’s ability to detain migrants in provisional border facilities and longer-term immigration detention centers. Congress rebuffed the administration’s previous efforts to dramatically increase detainees, which have hovered at an all-time-high of more than 45,000 migrants a day. The current budget provides for 42,774 adult beds. The emergency supplemental request would add more than $300 million to fund an average of 51,300 beds this fiscal year, and allows ICE to ratchet that up to 54,000 by the end of the fiscal year. The money would also fund an additional 960 beds at the Dilley Family Residential Center in South Texas, a sprawling detention camp for mothers and children. The current budget provides for 2,500 beds at that facility.


The Health and Human Services Department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversees care of unaccompanied minors, is housing nearly 13,000 until they can be placed with a parent or guardian in the United States. The supplemental request would nearly double its capacity to 23,600 beds. The bulk of the $3.3 billion for humanitarian assistance in the spending request — $2.8 billion — would be used to shore up the budget of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversees the network of shelters where minors are sent after they are processed by DHS. At some facilities, the cost of sheltering a child exceeds $750 per day. The average time that it takes to complete the sponsorship process is 66 days, according to the latest HHS figures.

 


New York Times: Trump is Wasting Our Immigration Crisis

 



According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, since October, from California through Texas, there have been 190,000 apprehensions of “family units” (a child under 18 with a parent or legal guardian) who crossed illegally from Mexico, up from 40,000 a year ago. And roughly 30 percent of those apprehended sought asylum. In addition to families, 135,000 adults and 36,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended since October.

 

San Antonio Express-News: Report: Immigrants Contributed Billions To The San Antonio Economy

 

Immigrants are contributing billions of dollars a year to the San Antonio economy, pouring hundreds of millions into Social Security and Medicare, and are disproportionately filling science, technology and engineering jobs, according to a new study. About 30 percent of San Antonio’s business owners are immigrants, even though they make up only 13.5 percent of the city’s population. About a fourth of the foreign-born population works in construction. The report, based on 2017 data, was produced through a collaboration between the city, the Chamber of Commerce and the New American Economy (NAE), a bipartisan organization launched by philanthropist Michael Bloomberg and media mogul Rupert Murdoch. The study counted 200,081 immigrants in the city in 2017. Mexico was the top country of origin, making up 64.8 percent of the foreign-born population, followed by India at 4.4 percent and then the Philippines. In 2017, immigrant households earned $4.6 billion, and spent over $360 million on state and local taxes, and over $670 million on federal taxes. After those expenditures, immigrants had a remaining $3.6 billion in spending power. Meanwhile, undocumented immigrants made up 31.6 percent of the total immigrant population, or more than 63,000 people. The study said 41.5 percent, or 83,064, immigrants were naturalized citizens and 9,328 were likely refugees. Undocumented immigrants in San Antonio earned $1.1 billion, spent more than $100 million on federal, state and local taxes, and had more than $970 million in disposable income in 2017. Overall, immigrants received fewer social services than U.S.-born citizens. About 22 percent received Medicare or Medicaid, compared to 32 percent of U.S.-born residents. Immigrants also contributed more than $660 million to Social Security and Medicare. But immigrants over 25 years old were less likely to hold a college degree — 22.2 percent vs. 27.6 percent of their U.S.-born peers in San Antonio— and less likely to own a home, 53.4 percent vs. 56.5 percent.

 


Washington Post: Homeland Security To Test DNA Of Families At Border In Cases Of Suspected Fraud

 

 

Homeland Security officials said Wednesday (May 1) they will start a pilot program to test the DNA of families arriving at the U.S. border, calling the measure an investigative tool to root out fraudulent cases of migrants traveling with children who are not their own. Under the pilot program, Homeland Security investigators can request cheek-swab DNA samples if they suspect that an adult and a minor claiming to be family members do not in fact have a parent-child relationship. A private contractor, Ande, which specializes in “rapid DNA” screening for law enforcement and other government purposes, will conduct the DNA tests at the border. Results will be available in two hours, DHS officials said, after which samples and data will be destroyed. DHS officials said they have detected more than 1,000 cases of fraudulent families trying to cross the border since October, reaching that determination through document screenings and other traditional investigative methods. In some instances, migrant children are paired with uncles, cousins or other relatives who might not be a parent but are part of the same family. But there have been other, more worrisome allegations that some desperate families are accepting payment in exchange for allowing their children to travel with adults who view the minors as an entry ticket to the United States.

 


Texas Tribune: The Government Is Putting Up More Tents To Hold Migrants, But Will It Be Enough?

 

"Even before the White House submitted an emergency request to Congress for $4.5 billion to help manage the record number of migrant families crossing the border, the federal government began building two tent facilities on the Texas-Mexico border to house migrants. Both facilities in El Paso and in the Rio Grande Valley city of Donna are designed to house up to 500 undocumented immigrants, most of them asylum seekers, and will cost about $36.9 million through the end of August to build and operate, according to federal documents. The facilities are intended as processing centers for migrants who are apprehended or turn themselves in and are not meant to be long-term detention centers, U.S. Border Patrol spokesperson Ramiro Cordero said. They will initially only house families."

 

BuzzFeed News: A 16-Year-Old Unaccompanied Immigrant Boy Has Died In US Government Custody

 


A 16-year-old unaccompanied Guatemalan boy died in government custody in Texas on Tuesday (April 30), officials said. The boy, who was not identified by officials, is the third child to die in government custody since December, when a 7-year-old girl died hours after being taken into Border Patrol custody.


As of late March, around 32,000 unaccompanied children had been referred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) for custody. In this case, on April 20, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials brought the boy to the ORR shelter in Brownsville, Texas, Southwest Key Casa Padre. The migrant youth shelter, run out of a former Walmart, houses about 1,200 boys and girls.US Customs and Border Protection clinicians did not notice any health concerns and the boy himself did not mention any when brought to the shelter, said Evelyn Stauffer, a Health and Human Services spokesperson.


The next morning, however, the boy became “noticeably ill,” including having a fever, chills and a headache, she added. Workers at Southwest Key Casa Padre brought the boy to a hospital that morning on April 21, where he was treated and released that day and brought back to the shelter, Stauffer said. The cause of death has yet to be determined as the ORR investigates the case. The Guatemalan consulate said the 16-year-old was admitted with a severe infection in his frontal lobe at a children's hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. After a surgery to stabilize the pressure in his head, the minor was put in intensive care before he died April 30.

 

ProPublica: Pediatrician Who Treated Immigrant Children Describes Pattern Of Lapses In Medical Care In Shelters

 

Elana Levites-Agababa, a pediatrician for CAMcare, had been noticing a lax attitude about the medical needs of children at the federally funded immigrant youth shelters run by the Center for Family Services (CFS), a nonprofit based in Camden, New Jersey. So, she decided to review the charts of the 90 CFS patients the community health center had seen.


Children, including infants, were showing up as many as 10 weeks late for their booster vaccines, increasing their risk of contracting infectious diseases, she said. There were an unusual number of no-shows and cancellations, even though nearly all the health center’s clinics are within a half-hour of the shelters. And the shelters routinely failed to schedule the prescribed follow-up appointments after emergency room visits, psychiatric admissions and hospitalizations.

 

Vox: Exclusive: Booker, House Dems Introduce Most Ambitious Bill Yet To Curb Immigration Detention

 

As the administration continues to expand immigration detention to unprecedented levels, and (with the help of the Supreme Court) continues to restrict which immigrants can post bond to get out of detention while their deportation cases are pending.


A group of congressional Democrats — led in the Senate by presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker -  is proposing a bill that would throw the detention machine in reverse. The bill, the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, was first introduced in the 2017-’18 Congress (with Washington Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Adam Smith co-sponsoring it in the House and Booker introducing the Senate version). It’s being reintroduced as a response to an April ruling from Attorney General William Barr that prohibited asylum seekers who came to the U.S. without papers from posting bond.

 

Washington Post: ICE Is Holding $204 Million In Bond Money, and Some Immigrants Might Never Get It Back

 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is holding on to more than $200 million in bond money that belongs to immigrants who have been in the agency’s custody, cash that has yet to be returned to thousands of immigrant families or the U.S. citizens who bailed them out, according to data obtained through open-records requests. The unreturned bond money stood at $204 million as of July 31, 2018, according to the data, which immigration-law clinics at Stanford University and the University of California at Davis obtained and shared exclusively with The Washington Post. The pot of money grew by $57.3 million between September 2014 and July 2018, the data shows. More than 18,000 bond payments went unclaimed in that four-year period, according to the data. Although the trust fund — which the Treasury Department maintains — cannot be used for any other purpose, getting the money back to immigrants and their friends and families has proved a difficult and lengthy process. ICE officials said the agency makes multiple attempts to reach the people who posted the bond, but paperwork and checks mailed to them sometimes are undeliverable or receive no response, and it can be impossible to find the people if they have moved out of the country. Those who do submit claims, ICE said, receive their money within a month. Marco Antonio Torres Rojas, a father of three from Mexico, won his immigration case in August, but it took roughly seven months for ICE to return the $25,000 bond his family and friends paid to gain his release — seven years ago. While criminal defendants typically can pay a bondsman 10 percent of the set bail amount to gain release, in the immigration system about 90 percent of bonds require cash for the whole amount upfront. The average bond set by a judge was $3,000 to $5,000 for years, but it rose to $8,000 in fiscal year 2016, according to data from the Executive Office of Immigration Review. ICE pays interest on bond money while unclaimed, up to one year. After that, the funds are transferred to the Treasury Department. The Treasury Department said it does not know what year the $204 million began accumulating. The U.S. government is not allowed to use the money unless immigrants fail to adhere to bond conditions and forfeit it, otherwise known as a bond breach. Bonds can be breached for reasons such as failure to show up in court or failure to turn the immigrant over to authorities if ICE asks the obligor to do so. About $34.5 million in bonds is forfeited each year, money that ICE uses to defray detention and apprehension costs.

 

CBS News: John Kelly Joins Board Of Company Operating Largest Shelter For Unaccompanied Migrant Children

 

On Friday, May 3, Caliburn International confirmed to CBS News that General John Kelly had joined its board of directors. Caliburn is the parent company of Comprehensive Health Services, which operates Homestead and three other shelters for unaccompanied migrant children in Texas. Prior to joining the administration in January 2017, Kelly had been on the board of advisors of DC Capital Partners, an investment firm that now owns Caliburn. "With four decades of military and humanitarian leadership, in-depth understanding of international affairs and knowledge of current economic drivers around the world, General Kelly is a strong strategic addition to our team," said James Van Dusen, Caliburn's CEO. " In the past year, Comprehensive Health Services, the only private company operating shelters, became one of the most dominant players in the industry. Last August, it secured three licenses for facilities in Texas, totaling 500 beds, and in December, the Homestead facility began expanding from a capacity of 1,250 beds to 3,200. Located on several acres of federal land adjacent to an Air Reserve Base, the Homestead facility is the nation's only site not subject to routine inspections by state child welfare experts. Federal contract records show Comprehensive received at least $222 million to operate Homestead between July 7, 2018 and April 20, 2019, and could receive much more — up to $341 million in payments between now and November.

 

BBC News: Pope Donates $500,000 For Migrants Stranded In Mexico

 


Pope Francis has donated $500,000 to help migrants stranded in Mexico as they try to reach the U.S. border, the Vatican said. The money comes from the Catholic Church's Peter's Pence fund, from church collections around the world. This amount will be distributed among 27 projects in 16 dioceses and among Mexican religious congregations that have asked for help in order to continue providing housing, food and basic necessities to these our brothers and sisters." In March, the Pope criticized political leaders who tried to erect barriers to keep migrants out. "Builders of walls, be they made of razor wire or bricks, will end up becoming prisoners of the walls they build," he said.

 

Washington Post: Asylum Seekers Leave Everything Behind. There's No Way They Can Pay Trump's Fee.

 

On Monday evening (April 29), the President issued a memo calling for regulations that, among other things, require asylum seekers to pay a fee to apply for asylum and their first work permit, and denies work permits to immigrants who entered the United States without inspection, or “illegally.” Since the creation of our asylum system, after the United States signed the Protocol to the Refugee Convention in 1968 and enacted its own Refugee Act in 1980, there has never been a fee to apply for asylum. Filing for asylum is free for a reason under U.S. law and in the vast majority of other countries: Seeking asylum is a human right. Congress codified a waiting period for work permits for asylum seekers in 1996. Asylum seekers can apply for a work permit 150 days after they have submitted an application for asylum. The work permit is issued sometime after 180 days. The first work permit is currently free to asylum seekers and valid for two years. Requiring a filing fee for the initial work permit and denying work permits to those who enter the United States without inspection adds another significant impediment to lawful authorization, which asylum seekers need to support themselves and their families and contribute to our national economy. The President’s memo does not specify the fee amount, only that it would “cover the cost of adjudication.

 

New York Times: Trump Administration Can Keep Sending Asylum Seekers To Mexico, Court Rules

 

A federal appeals court on Tuesday (May 7) ruled that the Trump administration can continue to enforce a policy that returns asylum seekers to Mexico while they wait for an immigration court to decide their cases. The ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit allows the government to continue enforcing the policy, formally called the Migration Protection Protocols, while the legal issues of the case are being decided. The administration unveiled the “Remain in Mexico” program in December for migrants entering the country in San Diego and has since expanded it to El Paso. A federal district judge in San Francisco, Richard Seeborg, first ruled on April 8 to block the policy from taking effect, saying that the law did not authorize the Department of Homeland Security to enact it. He also found that the program lacked safeguards to ensure migrants were not returned to a place where they faced risks. The administration appealed the case to the Ninth Circuit, which is based in San Francisco, and on April 12 the court allowed the policy to be enforced while it is being reviewed. The same three judges extended that stay on Tuesday (May 7). Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan who wrote the 11-page appeals court ruling from a motions panel, said the government was likely to succeed on the merits under federal immigration and regulatory laws. Judge William A. Fletcher, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, agreed on granting a stay to allow enforcement of the policy for now but wrote separately that the law did not allow the government to return migrants to Mexico. Judge Paul J. Watford, an appointee of President Barack Obama, strongly condemned the government’s failure to ask migrants whether they fear being in Mexico before returning them to that country. More than 1,500 people have been returned to Mexico under the program in the El Paso area, according to immigrant advocates, including pregnant women, a transgender woman and children with health issues.

 

Texas Tribune: Report: Slowdowns At Border Ports Of Entry Could Cost Texas Billions

 

Increased wait times at Texas’ ports of entry could cost the state more than $32 billion in gross domestic product in just over three months, according to a report released Thursday, May 2. The report, conducted by the Waco-based Perryman Group, says that the border region alone could take a hit of nearly $2 billion, while the state could lose about 292,000 jobs over the next year as a result of the federal government's decision to divert customs officers from the state's international bridges to help the U.S. Border Patrol handle a surge of migrants. “As a major exporting and importing state with an extended southern border, Texas is particularly hard hit by the border slowdown. In fact, the state is responsible for about 35% of all trade with Mexico,” the report states. The study was commissioned by IBC Bank in conjunction with the Texas Association of Business, Texas Border Coalition, Texas Business Leadership Council and the Border Trade Alliance. The slowdown in the international bridges began in late March after former Customs and Border Protection commissioner and current interim Department of Homeland Secretary Kevin McAleenan said the agency was diverting 750 customs officials from Tucson, Laredo, El Paso and San Diego to help U.S. Border Patrol agents process the record numbers of immigrant families who are crossing the border to seek asylum. Nationwide, the study predicts about $69 billion in gross domestic product could be lost, with manufacturing, transportation and utilities and the wholesale trade industries taking the biggest hits. The study was released just after reports that Mexico surpassed Canada and China to become the United State’s biggest trade partner during the first two months of 2019. Two-way trade with Mexico was about $97.4 billion through February, according to WorldCity, a Florida-based company that tracks trade data using U.S. Census information. Trade with Canada and China stood at $92.4 billion and $90.4 billion, respectively.

 


New York Times: Trump Names Mark Morgan, Former Head Of Border Patrol, To Lead ICE
 
"The President named Mark Morgan, a former Obama administration official as the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Mr. Morgan, served as the Border Patrol chief the last three months of the Obama administration, and was previously the head of internal affairs at United States Customs and Border Protection. In recent interviews with Fox News, Mr. Morgan has displayed much more enthusiasm for the aggressive policies backed by Mr. Trump and Stephen Miller, the architect of the president’s immigration agenda. In an interview on Fox News on April 15, Mr. Morgan said he supported Mr. Trump’s suggestion that he might bus migrants crossing the border to so-called sanctuary cities that are defying a crackdown by ICE. Mr. Morgan will still need to pass Senate confirmation before he is named the official director of ICE."

 

Reuters: Trump Administration Proposal Would Make It Easier To Deport Immigrants Who Use Public Benefits

 

The administration is considering reversing long-standing policy to make it easier to deport U.S. legal permanent residents who have used public benefits, part of an effort to restrict immigration by low-income people. Currently, those legal permanent residents who are declared to be a “public charge,” or primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, can be deported — but in practice, this is very rare. A draft regulation by the Department of Justice would use a more expansive definition to include some immigrants who have used an array of public benefits, including cash welfare, food stamps, housing aid, or Medicaid. U.S. law allows for the deportation of immigrants who have become “public charges” within five years of admission if their reason for seeking help preceded their entry to the United States. But due to a 1948 ruling, the deportation of immigrants for using public benefits has been strictly limited to cases in which the government has demanded payment for public services, and the person has failed to pay. The public benefits in question include Supplemental Security Income (SSI), given to disabled and older people; the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps; Section 8 housing vouchers; many Medicaid benefits; and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a cash assistance program. According to federal policy, many permanent residents do not qualify for public benefits unless they have had a green card for five years, making it unlikely they could be targeted for deportation on the basis of “public charge” even under the draft rule.

 

Washington Post: HUD Says 55,000 Children Could Be Displaced Under Trump Plan To Evict Undocumented Immigrants

 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development acknowledged that a Trump administration plan to purge undocumented immigrants from public housing could displace more than 55,000 children who are all legal U.S. residents or citizens. The proposed rule, published Friday (May 10) in the Federal Register, would tighten regulations against undocumented immigrants accessing federally subsidized housing to “make certain our scarce public resources help those who are legally entitled to it,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said last month. Current rules bar undocumented immigrants from receiving federal housing subsidies but allow families of mixed-immigration status as long as one person — a child born in the United States or a citizen spouse — is eligible. The subsidies are prorated to cover only eligible residents. The new rule, pushed by White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, would require every household member be of “eligible immigration status.” Undocumented immigrants may no longer sign the leases of subsidized housing, even if their children are entitled to prorated benefits. Approximately 25,000 households, representing about 108,000 people, now living in subsidized housing have at least one ineligible member, according to the HUD analysis. Among these mixed-status households, 70 percent, or 76,000 people, are legally eligible for benefits — of whom 55,000 are children, HUD says. The vast majority live in California, Texas and New York. Those mixed-status families in subsidized housing receive an average of $8,400 per household a year, according to the HUD analysis, which is typically written by career staff. Restricting those subsidies to families in which all members are legal U.S. residents would cost an additional $193 million to $227 million a year because entire families would receive higher subsidies, the analysis said.

 

Washington Post: Border Detention Cells In Texas Are So Overcrowded That U.S. Is Using Aircraft To Move Migrants

 

 

Overcrowding at Border Patrol stations in South Texas has become so acute in recent days that U.S. authorities have taken the rare step of using aircraft to relocate migrants to other areas of the border simply to begin processing them, according to three Homeland Security officials. The first flight left McAllen, Tex., on Friday (May 10), transferring detainees to Border Patrol facilities in Del Rio, Tex. There are daily flights scheduled for the next several days, with two planned for Tuesday (May 14), according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the operations. The flights are conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but the detainees remain in the custody of Border Patrol, officials said. Though ICE routinely uses aircraft to move detainees among its detention facilities, it is very unusual for Border Patrol to fly recent arrivals from one part of the border to another to perform routine booking procedures. The agency is scrambling to make room for the large volume of families and children who have come across the border in dramatically higher numbers in the past several days, officials said. One official said the U.S. government has resorted to using aircraft because all available buses were already in use and authorities needed every available transportation option. The number of people taken into custody along the Mexico border has exceeded 5,500 each day for several days in a row, and Border Patrol currently has more than 17,500 people in holding cells and tent sites set up in parking lots outside stations, officials said. Tents have been set up in the parking lots outside Border Patrol stations in the lower Rio Grande Valley cities of McAllen, Brownsville and Rio Grande City to ease overcrowding. Emergency tents for families also have been erected in El Paso and at Camp Donna, a military site in the Rio Grande Valley. To alleviate overcrowding in holding cells, Border Patrol in recent weeks has begun releasing migrants directly from its custody, instead of waiting for ICE to pick them up and either detain or release them. Border Patrol will use the flights to transfer some of those adults to Del Rio, where facilities are less overcrowded, instead of having to conduct releases, officials said. Each flight costs $16,000 and can transport about 135 adults. Authorities detained 109,144 migrants along the Mexico border in April, the highest total since 2007.

 

NewsWeek: Border Apprehensions In 2019 Have Already Broken 10-Year Record ‘Only 7 Months In
 
Since the start of the fiscal year on October 1 through April 30, Border Patrol agents apprehended 460,294 people on the southern border, U.S. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost said. In 2009, agents apprehended 540,865 people at the southern border during the entire fiscal year."



 

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility: At Today's Annual Meeting, GEO Group Shareholders Voices Strong Concerns About Company's Respect For Inmate/Detainee Human Right

 

At the annual meeting of GEO Group, one of the country’s largest private correctional/detention facilities, a shareholder proposal sponsored by religious investors and members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) highlighting concerns around potential human rights risks was passed by a majority of shareholders. Shareholders filed the resolution as a result of alarming reports of potential human rights abuses at multiple GEO-owned and operated facilities, including an immigration detention center in Adelanto, California where the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General in October 2018 reported “serious issues relating to safety, detainee rights, and medical care”. Inspectors found nooses made from twisted bed sheets in 15 of 20 cells inspected at the Adelanto center despite 1 suicide and 7 attempts at the facility last year. In addition, during their visit officials found that all 14 detainees in administrative segregation had been placed inappropriately. The proposal requested a report detailing the implementation of the portion of GEO’s human rights policy that addresses “Respect for Our Inmates and Detainees”. The referenced human rights policy was adopted nine years ago in response to another shareholder resolution by the same proponents, the U.S.A West Province of the Society of Jesus.

 

Specifically, the proposal be it resolved stated: Shareholders request that GEO report annually on its website to investors, beginning in September 2019, on how it implements the portion of the Policy that addresses “Respect for Our Inmates and Detainees,” including:


How GEO ensures that its employees are aware of, and know how to apply, the company’s commitment to inmate/detainee human rights;


Metrics used to assess human rights performance, including any process for independent outside verification of such metrics; and


How GEO remedies shortcomings in human rights performance.


The proposal regarding the publication of an annual Human Rights Report received a total of 89,129,403 votes FOR and 12,271,605 votes AGAINST.


According to the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), the actual vote for this proposal is 87.90%.