On Tuesday, immigrant activists held protests outside of Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D – New York) office to draw attention to the support he has received over the years from the private prison industry. Schumer is a member of the gang of eight in the Senate, the group that is tasked with crafting an immigration reform bill. He also is the recipient of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). Note that one of Schumer’s biggest donors is Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, which lobbies for CCA.
Presente.org, along with Migrant Power Alliance, the Dream Action Coalition, the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights and the National Alliance for Latino and Caribbean Communities, are delivering over 30,000 signatures to Senator Schumer’s office in New York asking him to return the donations related to the private prison industry. They are also highlighting the Senator’s efforts to prioritize enforcement and punitive measures over policies to unite families. Some of the things that Schumer has done that activists are take issue with include: advocating for more border security at a time when the border is supposed to be the most secure, supporting the implementation of a national I.D. card, and calling the undocumented “illegals.”
The CEO of CCA has even admitted recently to investors that the impact of any immigration reform would be positive because “There’s always going to be a demand for beds.”
Just this past Sunday on Meet the Press, Senator Schumer expressed optimism that an immigration bill would be introduced soon, saying, “With the agreement between business and labor, every major policy issue has been resolved on the gang of eight. Now everyone, we’ve all agreed that we’re not going to come to a final agreement until we see draft legislative language and we all agree on that. We’ve drafted some of it already, the rest will be drafted this week. So I’m very optimistic that we will have an agreement among the eight of us next week.”
Aside from the protests in New York, there were protests in other cities including Los Angeles outside of a downtown federal building, where protesters held signs that said, “Senator Schumer: you have a Latino problem.”
And those protest signs may foreshadow an upcoming fight in terms of getting the grassroots excited about an immigration bill.
Photo Credit: Dream Action Coalition and Presente.org.