Human Rights Commission calls for city to divest from corporations that profit on immigrant detention

by Melanie Davis
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Earlier this month, the Seattle Human Rights Commission passed a resolution calling on the city to divest from corporations that profit from immigrant detention. The commission said that at least two of the city’s three fund accounts have assets that are being managed by investment firms that hold significant shares in the largest private immigrant detention operators in the nation, GEO Group, Inc. and Corrections Corporation of America. The commission said those investments are contradictory to the city’s reputation and record as a strong promoter of human rights, immigrant rights, and comprehensive immigration reform that keeps families together and upholds due process and humane treatment of immigrants. Resolution 14-4 states: “The Commission calls on the City to adopt a policy to divest from the five major private immigrant detention companies, including but not limited to GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America, until those companies have demonstrated respect for human rights in the management and operation of their detention centers and have discontinued strategies to undermine efforts to enact just and humane immigration reform nationally.†A 2008 report completed by Seattle University School of Law’s International Human Rights Clinic alleges human rights violations at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma including lack of due process, mistreatment of detainees (including strip searches), insufficient food and medical care, language barriers, and inadequate treatment of the mentally ill. The Seattle Human Rights Commission said in a statement: “Due to the grave violations of human rights documented at immigrant detention centers, including the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA, the Seattle Human Rights Commission passed Resolution No. 14-4 on July 1st, 2014 calling on the City of Seattle to divest from corporations that profit from immigrant detention. Efforts are also underway in other cities in the United States, including Portland, OR and El Paso, TX, in making a statement to advance human rights and public accountability in the use of public funds.â€