Bank of America will no longer provide financing for private, for-profit prison and immigrant detention companies, as outrage builds over conditions at U.S. immigrant detention camps.
Bloomberg reported Wednesday that the mega-bank will cease its financing of the prison-industrial complex following a meeting of its environmental, social, and governance committee. While the decision won’t immediately take effect, the bank will stop funding those companies once existing contracts have been completed.
“We’ve done our due diligence that we said we would do at the annual meeting, and this is the decision we’ve made,” Bank of America vice chairman Anne Finucane said.
This makes the third major bank to cut off its financial relationship with the private prison industry (after JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo), which includes companies like GEO Group and CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America). According to Bloomberg, share prices of those two companies dropped by nearly 4% apiece following the announcement, adding to a 17% overall drop in calendar year 2018.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) celebrated the decision, pointing out that she was the first member of Congress to describe the immigrant detention centers as “concentration camps” earlier this month. Since then, the Bronx Congresswoman has launched a national debate over the use of the term as an accurate descriptor of the camps themselves.
While Republicans insist the term is offensive to the Jewish community, a Jewish historian recently wrote in Vox that the use of the term was both “accurate” and “necessary.”
“Words matter,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Wednesday.
Last week, we called the concentration camps at the border for what they are.
In the week since:
– Acting director of Customs & Border Patrol resigned
– Bank of America announced they will stop financing for-profit immigrant detention & private prisons.
Words matter. https://t.co/xzBMotvTSB
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 26, 2019
Conditions at the immigrant detention centers have been repeatedly described in graphic detail by various observers. In a medical declaration obtained by ABC News, physician Dolly Lucio Sevier said the camps could be described as “torture facilities,” saying many of the immigrant children being held at the facility in McAllen, Texas are routinely subjected to “extreme cold temperatures, lights on 24 hours a day, [and] no adequate access to medical care, basic sanitation, water, or adequate food.”
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.