Friday, October 29, 2010

The Real Force Behind AZ Immigration Legislation

Arizona Policymakers Touted Contrived Crime Problem as Reason for Legislation

NPR spent the past several months analyzing hundreds of pages of campaign finance reports, lobbying documents and corporate records. What they show is a quiet, behind-the-scenes effort to help draft and pass Arizona Senate Bill 1070 by an industry that stands to benefit from it: the private prison industry.

The law could send hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to prison in a way never done before. And it could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to private prison companies responsible for housing them, according to NPR.

Arizona state Senator Russell Pearce says the bill was his idea. He says it's not about prisons. It's about what's best for the country.

Instead of taking his idea to the Arizona statehouse floor, Pearce first took it to a hotel conference room.

It was last December at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C. Inside, there was a meeting of a secretive group called the American Legislative Exchange Council. Insiders call it ALEC.

It's a membership organization of state legislators and powerful corporations and associations, such as the tobacco company Reynolds American Inc., ExxonMobil and the National Rifle Association. Another member is the billion-dollar Corrections Corporation of America — the largest private prison company in the country, according to NPR.

It was there that Pearce's idea took shape. "I did a presentation," Pearce told NPR. "I went through the facts. I went through the impacts and they said, 'Yeah.'" The they are lobbists, special interests and business leader-not the citizens of Arizona.

I wrote about the contrived crime problem that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and Senator John McCain and many other policymakers relied on to push for immigration legislation. We learn now that immigration reform in Arizona has little to do with what's best for Arizona or America, but what is best for the businesses that make-up the prison industrial complex.

It makes perfect sense. With crime rates falling and incaraceration rates down for the first time in years. Immigration is the busisness plan for the future of the prison industrial complex.

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