Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses—We Have Private Prisons to Fill

The profits and losses of criminalizing immigrants

By Forrest Wilder, Texas Observer
May 1, 2013

When Jose Rios walked into a Bank of America branch last year, he hoped to open an account for the car repair shop he owned. He didn’t expect to end up with a prison sentence.

Days after Rios provided the bank with a home address and Social Security number, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents showed up at his house looking for him. (Rios said ICE agents later told him that Bank of America turned him in.) Rios wasn’t home. His wife, a pretty, sad-eyed woman of 38, answered the door.

“They said, ‘if we don’t find [Jose], we come back for you,’” she said, sitting outside her daughters’ elementary school on a gorgeous California day while her smiling 2-year-old brought us handfuls of dainty red geraniums. Her daughters, the agents warned, could end up in foster care.

Both Jose and his wife, Marta, are undocumented immigrants. (The Observer has changed their names to protect their identities.) Their three girls—ages 2, 7 and 12—are U.S. citizens. Facing the prospect of a shattered family, Jose turned himself in to ICE. [...]

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