Nashville-Based Corrections Corp. of America Bought Arizona Immigration Bill

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Nashville's Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison company in the country, basically wrote Arizona Bill 1070 — the controversial immigration bill the Obama administration is challenging, and which conservative Tennessee legislators like Rep. Joe Carr of Murfreesboro praised this summer. That's the gist of an NPR investigation that uncovers Bond-villain levels of chicanery.

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If there was ever any doubt that the bill signed into law by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer had absolutely nothing to do with securing the border, let it be dispelled with prejudice. Last December, a number of Arizona lawmakers attended a meeting in Washington, D.C., for the aptly named American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). That's a group composed of legislators, CCA, tobacco giant Reynolds American, ExxonMobil, the National Rifle Association and other companies who pay tens of thousands of dollars to attend these gatherings of "conservative, free-market oriented, limited-government" folks.

It was there that Arizona's immigration bill was drawn up. CCA naturally stood to gain the most. Citing a company document, NPR reported the company expected a "significant portion" of its future revenues to come from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for the detention of undocumented immigrants.

When the bill, virtually unchanged from the language and substance laid down by its legislative and corporate authors, made it to the Arizona House floor, two-thirds of its sponsors were members of ALEC. Over the next several months, most of the bill's co-sponsors received donations from CCA and other corrections companies. Gov. Brewer, whose two top advisers are former private prison company lobbyists, immediately signed the bill.

Talk about the land of opportunity: The undocumented immigrants making the dangerous trek to this country, like so many millions from all over the world since the United States' founding, are indeed a golden opportunity — for companies like CCA, whose stock-and-trade is incarceration. And for a price, ALEC companies got Arizona's business.

Said the president of Geo Group, an ALEC member and private prison company during a conference call, "Those people coming across the border and getting caught are going to have to be detained and that for me, at least I think, there's going to be enhanced opportunities for what we do."

And that evidently means enhanced opportunities to stir and manipulate the irrational fears and prejudices of an inflamed citizenry, to serve the ends of powerful private companies wreathed in the patriotic duty of "securing our border" and "cracking down on illegal immigration." Invest now!

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