Texas Group Calls for Wells Fargo to Divest From Private Prison Corporation GEO Group

Coalition Calls for Wells Fargo to Stop Profiting From the Private Immigration Detention Industry & End its Support of the Construction of a New Texas Detention Center

Austin, Texas – Austin-based coalition Texans United for Families will join community and labor groups in thirteen major cities nationwide on Friday, July 1st in protests against private detention company investments. Protestors are calling for major investors such as Wells Fargo to divest of their holdings in the private prison industry. Detention of immigrants will cost taxpayers billions of dollars this year only to produce profits for finance industry leaders, like Wells Fargo, that have invested in the growth of the private prison industry.

Wells Fargo currently holds over 3.5 million shares in GEO which is valued at $92 million. “The private prison industry relies on taxpayers for its income and then lobbies for policies that benefit its bottomline,” said Dave Kalloor of Texans United for Families. “Harsh immigrant incarceration policies and new detention centers, like one Karnes County, Texas, are some of the most lucrative policies for GEO and other private prison corporations.”

Participants in the protest will gather outside of the Wells Fargo located on 111 Congress Ave on Friday, July 1st from 12pm-1pm.

The July 1st date was chosen as a statement of solidarity with immigrants, their families and friends in Georgia. On this date the statewide anti-immigrant law, HB 87, will go into effect. Private prison companies such as Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group (of which Wells Fargo is a principal investor), as well as some of their major shareholders, made substantial contributions to politicians involved in passing this damaging legislation.

Wells Fargo’s support of the GEO Group is even more troubling in light of GEO’s history in Texas. GEO’s facilities include prisons, immigration detention centers, and juvenile detention centers where people have suffered from inadequate medical care and unsafe and unsanitary conditions. Deaths, riots, and hunger strikes at GEO’s facilities are indicative of GEO’s culture of cruelty and underscore the need to end construction of new GEO facilities.

GEO is currently constructing a new immigration detention center in Karnes County, Texas. “GEO and Wells Fargo profit from the detention and deportation system that separates families and tears our communities apart. Wells Fargo claims to support community-building and value ethics, yet they are investing in an industry with unethical practices that harm immigrants, people of color, and youth,” said Rocío Villalobos of Texans United for Families.

Texans United for Families, in partnership with community groups and unions across the USA, is calling on all public and private institutions to divest their holdings in the GEO Group and CCA, America’s largest private prison corporations that have profited from billions in taxpayer money. Wells Fargo and others should follow the lead of Pershing Square Capital Management which has already divested its holdings from CCA. Other major investors in the private prison industry include Wellington Management Company, Vanguard, General Electric, Fidelity and others.

Source: email from Bob Libal

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Irma Muniz Takes 'Free Ramsey' Campaign to LULAC

Recent correspondence from Irma Muniz, including background on Ramsey, a note from federal prison, and announcement of a new blog to follow–gm

Dear Friends:

Tomorrow I will depart for Cincinnati to attend the LULAC National Convention. I am excited about the opportunity to share information about the case of Ramsey Muniz, and to increase my knowledge about others issues pertaining to our people.

Please go to our new blog at http://freeramsey.blogspot.com and click the Follow button on the left. The next screen will ask you to click on a service that you are registered in. There will be several buttons. If you have not registered in any of them, I recommend Google. You will need to LEAVE the blog site and go to Google to register for a login and then return to our blot to click Follow again. Click on a button and on the next screen, click Follow This Blog.

I will be at the convention through Sunday, and it is my hope to provide information on things that I encounter as well as things that I learn. If you are not successful in clicking the Follow button, just be sure to go to our blog on a regular basis for current information.

Sincerely,
Irma Muniz


In the 1960s and 1970s, during America’s era of civil rights, Ramiro “Ramsey” Muñiz was a national Chicano leader who brought political awareness to the legislative power on behalf of the entire Southwest.

The contributions of Ramsey Muñiz are respected by many, as he contributed his time and talent to assist people. Through his activism and leadership in the political arena, he brought about positive changed for many, by giving them a voice and representation that previously were non-existent, and this improved the quality of life for many.

In the words of Geeta Mohan Gurnaney,

“In 1974 the Democratic Party co-opted Muñiz’s agenda to a large extent. In fact, since 1972 [Governor Dolph] Briscoe had appointed more Chicanos to state boards and commissions than every Texas governor in the 20th century combined. Also, the Democratic Party was fielding more Mexican-American candidates for public office than ever before. Even the Texas Rangers awarded scholarships for two Chicanos. Muñiz’s gubernatorial campaigns of 1972 and 1974 helped Chicanos gain greater visibility and representation in political circles, but ironically, these strides came at Muñiz’s expense in 1974.”

Today, Ramsey Muñiz, a leader during the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, is serving a sentence of life without parole on false charges. He states, “I am 68 years old and after 18 years of suffering and devastating cruel imprisonment, I do not want to die in the prisons of America for a crime I did not commit. This imprisonment for life is the most punitive and atrocious injustice committed against me, my family, and all humanity.”

Ramsey Muñiz has served his time and his family seeks his immediate release! For additional information, visit www.freeramsey.com. Forward this information to civil rights organizations and to your senator and congressman or congresswoman, asking them to get involved in this humanitarian issue!


The excerpts below describe the impact made by the Ramsey Muñiz gubernatorial campaigns. They also describe the horror of imprisonment and suffering that followed, and continues today.

Please distribute and ask organizations, your senator, and congressman/congresswoman to become involved in this humanitarian issue seeking the immediate release of Ramsey Muniz!

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“Muñiz’s gubernatorial campaigns of 1972 and 1974 were not simply politics as usual with a Chicano face. They couldn’t be because Muñiz was more than a Chicano politician trying to succeed in the Anglo political world. His 1972 and 1974 campaigns were an attempt to harness a latent power base that had long been either co-opted or ignored. Also, Muñiz was a symbol and a standard-bearer for Chicanos trying to gain power in an Anglo-dominated system without denying his Mexican heritage. Ultimately, His candidacy was a reminder that the history of Texas must include its Mexican legacy.”

Geeta Mohan Gurnaney, One Candidate, Two Approaches: the Ramsey Muñiz Gubernatorial Campaigns of 1972 and 1974.

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We are now getting close to all of those that created history and its all coming back, and God knows why He has kept me alive knowing that for months and months I was chained and shackled and at times naked for days, weeks and not even counting the months. I would cry and scream yet I was so deep in those dungeons that no one would hear my cry for freedom, for justice, and the removal of the cold chains and shackles on my God-given body. Yes, God-given, because your father has shared with me that they were there, but it was time for me to journey into the spiritual world that is only for us that were destined from the time of their birth.

The message that I receive everyday from your father who is in heaven is that our lives have just begun!

Amor,
Tez
(Ramsey)

Isenberg Hopeful ICE Memo will Change Dallas Immigration Enforcement

by Greg Moses

Immigrant advocate Ralph Isenberg is hopeful that a new federal memo on prosecutorial discretion will change the way things work in the Dallas area.

In a memo of June 17, 2011 Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) John Morton affirmed that ICE officers and attorneys share discretionary powers to determine the value of prosecuting individual cases.

“ICE must prioritize the use of its enforcement personnel, detention space, and removal assets to ensure that the aliens it removes represent, as much as reasonably possible, the agency’s enforcement priorities, namely the promotion of national security, border security, public safety, and the integrity of the immigration system,” said Morton in the background section of his six-page memo.

Isenberg, who has been an advocate for several immigrants, says that “all the cases I’m working on are going to have some meaningful relief coming, if the Morton memo is followed.”

Recently, Isenberg has been a public advocate for Saad Nabeel, a Texas college student who was deported to Asia; Olga Zanella, a young Dallas area resident who was threatened with deportation following a traffic violation; and Hector Lopez, an Oregon college student who was deported to Mexico, but who returned to the USA for a Christmas Eve reunion with his mother.

“Basically the memo says we don’t have the time to go after students, elderly, pregnant women, or people with medical problems,” said Isenberg on Sunday morning, speaking via telephone.

“Dallas says we can’t treat anyone special otherwise everyone gets to stay,” says Isenberg. “This memo says you will treat people different. It says that the elderly are important to this country. Minors are important. Kids who grew up here are important. Students are important. But if you’re a felon, you don’t count, get the hell out of here.”

Isenberg says he is waiting to see how ICE authorities in the Dallas office will respond to the memo.

“If the memo wasn’t intended for action, why release it?”

Deportation of Previously Deported Hits Record High in 2010

During fiscal year 2010 the Department of Homeland Security apprehended 517,000 foreign nationals, detained 363,000, removed 387,000, and “allowed” 476,000 to “to return to their home countries without an order of removal,” says an annual report issued on June 17 by the Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS).

Mexican nationals accounted for 83 percent of those apprehended, 73 percent of those removed, and 61 percent of those detained. Nationals from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador counted for 29 percent of detentions and 18 percent of removals.

Of the 387,000 removals, 29 percent were “expedited” by immigration officers without hearings. And 94 percent of expedited removals involved nationals from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador.

While total removals were down slightly compared to 2009 (387,242 v 395,165), expedited removals (111,118) in 2010 were near record levels (112,718) set in 2008.

Of the removed, 169,000 were counted as criminal aliens. And 62,000 of the criminal aliens were counted as violating immigration laws or traffic offenses.

130,840 removals were “reinstatements” of previous removal orders, accounting for 34 percent of all removals, up from 30 percent in 2009, continuing a trend in the rising number and percentage of “reinstatements” since 2005. The countries of Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador account for 98 percent of the record number of removals via “reinstatement” during FY 2010.

–gm

Hispanic Foreign-born Workers in US Average 76.4 Cents Per Dollar Earned by Native-borns

In 2010 there were 24.4 million foreign-born workers making up 15.8 percent of the US labor market says a roundup report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With an unemployment rate at 9.8 percent, foreign-born workers fared no better than native-born workers, and they made less money.

“Native-born workers were more likely than foreign-born workers to be employed in management, professional, and related occupations (38.9 versus 28.0 percent), and in sales and office occupations (25.3 versus 17.3 percent),” said the BLS report.

“Foreign-born workers were more likely than native-born workers to be employed in service occupations (25.0 versus 16.4 percent); in production, transportation, and material moving occupations (16.1 versus 10.8 percent); and in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations (13.6 versus 8.6 percent).”

In terms of earnings, “the median usual weekly earnings of foreign-born full-time wage and salary workers ($598) were 77.5 percent of the earnings of their native-born counterparts ($771). Among
men, median earnings for the foreign born were $610 per week, while the native born earned $873 per week. The median usual weekly earnings for foreign-born women were $577, compared with $686 for native-born women.”

While earnings of foreign-born and native-born workers were “similar” for white, black, or Asian workers, there was a significant difference between Hispanic workers, with foreign-born Hispanic workers making 76.4 percent as much as native-born Hispanic workers.

While close to one third of workers had college degrees, whether foreign-born or native-born, there was a 12 point difference in “some college or an associates degree” (17.1 of foreign-born versus 29.9 percent native born). And a downright disparity in high school equivalency.

“In 2010, 26.5 percent of the foreign-born labor force age 25 and over had not completed high school, compared with 5.4 percent of the native-born labor force.”

According to numbers published by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), about one third of the foreign-born population in the US is considered “unauthorized.” If labor force participation is the same for authorized and unauthorized foreign-born populations, then about 5 percent of the US labor market would be comprised of unauthorized foreign-born workers.

According to DHS tables, 80 percent of the “unauthorized” population would generally be classified as Hispanic; therefore, 4 percent of the US labor market would be foreign-born, “unauthorized,” Hispanic, and earning wages that pay 76.5 cent per every dollar paid to native-born Hispanics.–gm

Obama Administration Setting Record for Felony Prosecutions of Immigrants

The administration of President Barack Obama is setting records for felony prosecutions of immigrants, as “illegal reentry” becomes “the most commonly recorded lead charge brought by federal prosecutors during the first half of FY 2011,” says a report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.

While the administration is pursuing fewer and fewer cases of misdemeanor “illegal entry” the numbers of felony “illegal reentry” prosecutions in 2011 is projected to reach more than 37,000 or more than double the number of such cases (17,679) recorded in 2007.

“Illegal reentry is a felony offense and results in longer sentences than the second most frequent immigration charge brought this year, illegal entry, which is classed as a petty misdemeanor,” says the TRAC report.

“During the first six months of 2011, the average prison sentence was 14 months for those convicted where illegal reentry was recorded as the lead charge. This contrasts with an average of only 1 month prison time for convictions where the recorded lead charge was just illegal entry. Together, these two statutes account for over nine out of ten (91 percent) of all immigration criminal prosecutions.”

This is the first year that the number of felony reentry charges exceeds the number of charges for misdemeanor entry.

“Virtually all prosecutions for illegal entry (98 percent) are the result of investigations by the Border Patrol, and the number of border apprehensions have fallen off sharply particularly beginning in FY 2007,” says the TRAC report. “Relative to the number of apprehensions at the border, however, the odds of being criminally prosecuted have actually been climbing.”–gm

168 Cases Pending at T. Don Hutto

During the first seven months of fiscal year 2011, there were 168 immigration cases pending at the T. Don Hutto Immigrant Detention Center for Women in Taylor, Texas with the majority of immigrants (111) from Guatemala, El Salvador, or Honduras. Cases at the facility were handled in an average of 30 days.

The numbers come from a database tool offered by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. The Immigration Court Backlog Tool shows that 16 of the cases involve women from China, ten more that were reported in fiscal year 2010.

“Among individual Immigration Courts, and considering only those with at least 1,000 pending cases, the court with the fastest buildup during FY 2011 was the Immigration Court in San Antonio, Texas, where pending cases jumped by 26 percent,” says a June 7 report by TRAC.

The San Antonio Immigration Court had 7,465 cases pending in the first seven months of FY 2011 (through the beginning of May). 3,462 (or 46 percent) of the cases were from Mexico. 2,458 ( or 32 percent) were from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

India (with 221 pending cases) and Cuba (with 174) ranked fifth and sixth for numbers of cases pending in the San Antonio Immigration Court. China (with 82 cases) ranked tenth.

The San Antonio Immigration Court resolved pending cases in an average of 239 days. Cases from Mexico took an average of 277 days to resolve.

“The number of cases awaiting resolution before the Immigration Courts reached a new all-time high of 275,316 by the beginning of May 2011,” says the TRAC report. “The average time these pending cases have been waiting in the Immigration Courts of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) is now 482 days, compared with 467 days at the end of last year.”

A 2010 fact sheet at the website of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says that the T. Don Hutto facility has a capacity of 512 beds and an average length of stay of 31 days. The official descriptions do not mention that the facility is supposedly reserved for immigrant women. –gm