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Trump Got $500K From Private Prisons Holding Migrant Children And Asylum Seekers: Report

As new federal policies greatly expand the number of migrants held in private detention centers, a new bombshell report from The New York Times revealed that some of the players in this billion-dollar industry have particularly strong ties to the Trump administration.

According to The Times, the president’s education secretary provided funding to one of the groups. His defense secretary, Jim Mattis sat on the board of another. And —get this— president Trump himself collected $500,000 from two private prison companies housing detained migrant families for his inauguration fund. And some of the contractors employ prominent Republican lobbyists with ties to Mr. Trump and his administration, including someone who once lobbied for his family business.

The report notes that the administration’s new focus on ending the practice of “catch and release,” under which an ever-larger number of those apprehended at the border are held in detention, has meant that the business of housing and caring for migrant children is booming.

From the report:

A review of regulatory filings, campaign donations and lobbying records reveals a number of important links between people in Mr. Trump’s orbit and the groups poised to earn financial rewards from his immigration policies.

Migrant youths detained at the border are housed at more than 100 government-contracted shelters, detention centers and other facilities across the country.

The groups operating them have hauled in more than $1 billion in contracts in recent years to house, transport and watch over migrant children in federal custody.

Mr. Trump’s recent executive order to scale back the policy and keep migrant families together as much as possible will not necessarily undercut this business. The existing shelters will still house children who cross the border alone, and the president’s order called for migrant families to be detained together indefinitely, which could spur another round of contracts to expand the number of family detention centers.

Two private prison companies that run family centers, the Geo Group and CoreCivic, are among the politically connected contractors. Each donated $250,000 to Mr. Trump’s inaugural fund.

The Geo Group’s political action committee also gave $170,000 to a joint fund-raising committee set up between the Republican Party and the Trump campaign; $50,000 to a “super PAC” supporting the president; and, more recently, donations to Republican Party organizations focusing on the House and Senate.

The Geo Group also hired a lobbyist, Brian Ballard, who lobbied for Mr. Trump’s golf courses in Florida before he became president. A recent disclosure form shows that, on behalf of the Geo Group, Mr. Ballard’s firm was registered to lobby about “immigration regulation.”

According to the report, Trump’s Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, once sat on the board of General Dynamics and has received millions of dollars in contracts from the Department of Health and Human Services office that works with migrant children.

More From The Times:

Mr. Mattis, who resigned from the board upon entering the Trump administration in early 2017, is not the company’s only connection to the president. A General Dynamics employee served on Mr. Trump’s transition team, and the company’s chief executive, Phebe Novakovic, attended a meeting at the White House last year with Mr. Trump and other corporate executives. On two occasions, Ms. Novakovic has praised Mr. Trump’s trade actions.

“General Dynamics, which has registered to lobby on the issue of “border security,” also operates a PAC that has donated to members of the Republican party, including more than $1.1 million to GOP candidates and causes during this election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The company, which says its PAC “supports Congressional candidates who support a strong national defense, regardless of their party affiliation,” made one of those donations to the congressional campaign of Greg Pence, the brother of Vice President Mike Pence.”

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