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Teachers urge divestment from companies profiting off immigrant detention

By Ray Downs
Teachers urge divestment from companies profiting off immigrant detention
A U.S. Border Patrol officer stands guard over undocumented immigrants before they're deported to Mexico. File Photo by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol

Aug. 13 (UPI) -- The American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest teachers union in the United States, is urging public pension funds divest from private prison companies that profit from U.S. immigration policies.

In a report published Friday, the AFT advises pension trustees to divest from hedge funds that have large holdings in three of the largest companies profiting from child detention at the U.S.-Mexico border -- General Dynamics, GEO Group and CoreCivic.

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GEO Group and CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America, operate private prisons and immigration detention centers. General Dynamics, a global aerospace and defense company, provides immigration-related case-management and travel services for child migrants being to other locations.

According to the report, 28 hedge funds own more than $15 billion of stock in those three companies, with about $10 billion coming from investments in General Dynamics.

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"Hedge funds that invest in private prisons are not only profiting off a broken justice system and abetting the administration's policies of family separation and the permanent harm it has caused children," AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a statement. "They are also making a risky bet on an industry rightfully under siege. Trustees have a fiduciary duty to ensure workers' capital is invested in a fiscally prudent manner."

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The report also points out that several public pension funds across the United States have already made efforts to divest from GEO Group and CoreCivic.

"California educators do not want to fund family separation through their retirement savings," said California Federation of Teachers President Joshua Pechthalt said. "We plan to use this report to take further aim at the hedge funds profiting from family separation and look closely at where our pension funds may invest in them."

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Last year, the New York City Pension Funds became the first public pension fund in the country to fully divest from the private prison industry.

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