February 2009 Archives

What happens after deportation?

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What happens to undocumented people when they're deported to Mexico? I've decided to investigate this question firsthand by volunteering at the local soup kitchen for recent deportees in Nogales, Sonora.

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Trabanjando

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I see a lot of things around me and sometimes I see things that just, well they just hit me hard for some reason. Take the picture above. It's of three kids talking to a security officer. Nothing special about that right ? Well those three kids are keeping an eye out for the real cops because their parents are street vendors. I see them all them time, specially here in L.A. and I have mixed reactions. One moment can be rage and frustration because their parents are making their kids put themselves in harms way, taking them with them to work and basically depriving them of a decent childhood. 

Late Breaking News:

During Congressional Testimony today, Janet Napolitano was asked by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) about the ICE raid in Washington. Napolitano said she had not heard about the raid in advance and was surprised to find out about it this morning. She asked ICE to send her details about it today so she could review why it was carried out. In her testimony, she said enforcement should target employers and felonious criminals vs targetting workers.

The Associated Press just reported:

Napolitano orders review of raid in Wash. plant

Seattle (AP) - Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has ordered a review of a raid at a Washington manufacturing plant that ended with the arrests of 28 illegal immigrants. Homeland Security spokesman Sean Smith says Napolitano wants to know why Tuesday's raid occurred and what led up to it.

President Barack Obama, who appointed Napolitano, has signaled for a shift in immigration policy that would rely less on work site enforcement, focusing instead on employers who hire illegal immigrants and overall immigration reform.

Smith says the raid at the Yamato Engine Specialists in Bellingham was the first work site action that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has taken since Obama took office.

ICE spokeswoman Lori Dankers in Seattle declined comment.

Immigration officers raided an engine remanufacturing plant in Bellingham, WA yesterday and arrested 28 workers sending the majority of them to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA. This Detention Center has a history of abuses including hundreds of detainees falling sick of food poisoning and in another case, 1,000 immigrants quarantined, falling ill from chickenpox. Northwest is owned/operated by the GEO Group, an international corporation that operates prisons around the country. GEO is frequently in the news for their abuse of detainees, some resulting in preventable deaths. GEO has a series of pending law suits due to wrongful deaths of detainees in their custody.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has a meeting with Janet Napolitano tomorrow '(2/26/09). Their plan is to discuss Napolitano's Immigration Plans for the future. With this raid, it is clear Napolitano and her team plan to continue the militaristic worker raids vs focusing on felonious criminals.

Calls to the CHC indicate they will be discussing today's raid and asking for a change in policy.

Questions the CHC should ask include:

1. Why are the ICE Raids continuing?

2. What happened to Napolitano's drive to arrest felonious criminals vs workers?

3. Why are workers being sent to deplorable Detention Centers with history of abuses?

4. What happened to Napolitano's plan to have the Detention Centers investigated.

CHC: The time to ACT is Now!!

Cuban-born Cucu Diamantes welcomed our new President with her delicious Latin rhythms and joyful, athletic dancing, and now the Yerba Buena frontwoman is releasing her first solo album, Cuculand, in early March. 

What the World Eats

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Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio's book Hungry Planet: What the World Eats has been out since 2005, but I didn't see it until today. It has been bouncing around Facebook lately, and it turns out it was featured on Time's website in a three-part series at some point. (Parts I, II, and III)

The concept is simple: families from around the world are photographed with all the food they eat in a normal week, and the cost of the food is calculated and included in the caption.

The high:

The Melander family of Bargteheide (Germany)
Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07

The low:

The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp (Chad)
Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to a new study by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, Latinos accounted for 40% of all people sentenced to federal crimes in 2007, even though they made up only 13% of the U.S. adult population. This is clearly a result of all of the Racial Profiling brought about by the 287(g) policies and the restrictionist policies promoted by the ANTI Immigration Reform forces.

The study, which relied on data from U.S. Sentencing Commission statistics, analyzed the ethnic makeup and citizenship status of offenders sentenced in federal courts in the U.S. from 1991 to 2007.
In 2007, nearly half of all Latino offenders were sentenced for an immigration offense. The heightened focus on immigration enforcement changed the citizenship profile of federal offenders. Among sentenced immigration offenders, most were convicted of the civil violation of unlawfully entering or remaining in the U.S. Fully 75% of Latino offenders sentenced for immigration in 2007 were convicted of merely entering the U.S. unlawfully or residing in the country without authorization.
Some groups of offenders were more likely than others to receive a sentence. Fully 96% of immigration offenders received a prison sentence in 2007, compared with 95% of drug offenders, 94% of firearms offenders and 94% of violent offenders. In 2007, 96% of Latino offenders, and 98% of non-U.S. citizen Latino offenders, were sentenced to prison. In contrast, 89% of black offenders and 82% of white offenders received a prison sentence. Hispanics are much more likely than whites or blacks to be sentenced for an immigration or drug offense (due to Racial Profiling)--two of the crimes most likely to be punished with a prison sentence. In 2007, 85% of Hispanics were sentenced for either a drug or immigration offense. This was 40 percentage points greater than any other racial or ethnic group: 46% of black offenders and 37% of white offenders were sentenced for drug or immigration offenses.
As I previously reported, a new report from the Migration Policy Institute details the FAILURE of the National Fugitive Operations Program (NFOP), led by ICE, to remove fugitive aliens. Even though the NFOP budget has soared from $9M to $218M since 2003, the results have been a reduction of convictions of criminal aliens from 39% to a mere 9%. As I have been reporting for some time, ICE has taken the EASY WAY OUT. They boosted the rate of ICE Raids to meet their NFOP targets. The findings of the MPI report details that ICE has resorted to targetting non-criminals, including seamstresses, meat-packers and technical workers, just to meet their arrest quotas.
What is most alarming is the impact of Racial Profiling on the Latino Community.
MESSAGE TO JANET NAPOLITANO -- Stop the Racial Profiling! Stop the 287(g) programs. Consider the Costs of these unneccessary, lengthy incarcerations. Consider the FAILURE of the NFOP programs. Consider the abuses in the privately owned (RNC Crony Owned), vermin infested, non-humanitarian Detention Centers. Now is the time for Comprehnsive Immigration Reform!
References:
Pew Hispanic Center Report: Hispanics and Federal Crime

NCLR and NDN Call For Congress to Pass Immigration Reform This Year at The Unapologetic Mexican.

Across the Country, People Pray for Immigrants at Standing FIRM.

Last week the Interfaith Immigration Coalition launched the "Prayer, Renewal and Action on Immigration" campaign, calling on faith and community leaders to hold vigils and pray for the protection of immigrants and their families and the moral courage of leaders in Washington to promote just and humane Immigration Reform.

Silence of Good People at Smart Borders on Sheriff Joe and his shameful act.

Life in Mexico

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I can't imagine leaving the only home I've ever known to some strange and foreign land that I've never been to. That's why when I started following blogs about husbands and wives with kids having to move to another country for legal reasons made me think if I could do the same. I have a lot of respect and admiration for them because they are making a tremendous sacrifice leaving their homes for their loved ones. So here's a few of the blog I've been following. Give'em a read when you have the chance.   









Seu Jorge: Tive Razão

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You might recognize Brazilian singer/songwriter Seu Jorge from his acting roles in Life Aquatic or City of God.

But he has created a name for himself through his soothing, sometimes funky samba.

I can make out just enough of the lyrics in his song Eu Sou Favela to know this music has a message, but perhaps any Portuguese-speaking readers can let us know what he is saying here.

A favela, nunca foi reduto de marginal A favela, nunca foi reduto de marginal

Ela só tem gente humilde Marginalizada e essa verdade não sai no jornal

A favela é, um problema social
A favela é, um problema social

Sim mas eu sou favela
Posso falar de cadeira
Minha gente é trabalhadeira
Nunca teve assistência social
Ela só vive lá
Porque para o pobre, não tem outro jeito
Apenas só tem o direito
A salário de fome e uma vida normal.

A favela é, um problema social
A favela é, um problema social

Janet Napolitano speaks, for the first time, on her plans for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
In a nutshell, Napolitano says:
1. Secure Southern Border but No 2000 mile Fence: Instead Technology. "Some fencing in some places may make sense, but only if it's part of an overall system."
2. Pathway to Citizenship via facilitating the applications for citizenship of those who are entitled to become citizens.
3. No Mass Deportation, No ICE Raids: We will not focus on raids. Mass Deportation is up to Congress. "But right now we're focusing on human traffickers ." We are
 after Felonious Criminals!
4. Employer Sanctions: Interior enforcement against those who intentionally are going into the illegal labor market and creating a demand for illegal laborers. "I met with the Attorney General for the United States, Eric Holder, to talk about how we unite the forces of the U.S. Attorney's offices across the country with our offices to make sure that those who are actually benefiting financially in large scale from this pay a criminal sanction."
Napolitano's Bottom Line:
"We want enforcement of our nation's immigration laws; we want at the right time to take up the whole issue of immigration; and we want to do what we can administratively to help those who are entitled now to become citizens under our law to get through that process."
References:

The U.S. Army is offering a golden ticket, instant citizenship (6 months), to Temporary Immigrants in the U.S. who know one or more of 35 languages, excluding Spanish.

PTInews.com reports:

The U.S. military, stretched thin in Afghanistan and Iraq, will recruit about 550 temporary immigrants, including those from India who know Hindi and Tamil, offering them a golden chance to become US citizens in as little as six months. The pilot program, for the first time since the Vitenam War, will open the armed forces to temporary immigrants if they have lived in the US for a minimum of two years, the New York Times reported quoting military officials familiar with the plan. The Army's one-year pilot program will begin in New York City to recruit about 440 temporary immigrants who speak one or more of 35 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Igo, Kurdish, Nepalese, Pashto, Russian and Tamil. Spanish speakers are not eligible. It will also include about 300 medical professionals to be recruited nationwide. Recruiting will start after Dept. of Homeland Security officials update an immigration rule in coming days. Immigrants who are permanent residents, with documents commonly known as green cards, have long been eligible to enlist. Recruiters expect that the temporary immigrants will have more education, foreign language skills and professional experitise than many Americans who enlist, helping the military to fill shortages in medical care, language interpretation and field intelligence analysis. 

See references:

U.S. Military Will Offer Path to Citizenship

Retro Garlic: Life Imitating The Garlic - U.S. Military Will Offer Path to Citizenship

Dee - Immigration Talk with a Mexican American

Call Your Reps!: Pro-Migrant SanctuarySphere

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One More Thing You Can Do! Ask your family to call their Representatives! at Immigration Equality Blog. The Uniting American Families Act is being reintroduced today. Call your representatives!

Urgent ACTION: Confirm Hilda Solis to the Senate! at Standing FIRM. Go to the post and sign the petition.

Ideas for Change in America - Final Round of Voting from Jan 5 to Jan 15 at A Dream Deferred. Check out this post for instructions on voting for at Change.org. It's important to take the time to vote as the winning ideas will be presented to Obama on the 16th.

Immigration Detention Reform Moves to Front Burner at Of America.

Guantanamo Bay isn't the only prison crisis that President Barack Obama will have to deal with. There's another crisis growing - in the many immigration detention centers carpeting the interior of the country.

Aha ! I knew it all along

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~ Picture courtesy of the L.A. Times ~ 

The L.A. Times published a story last week about a fired border patrol agent that says that border patrol required them to meet a quota of arrest or they could get fired. "We had to make eight apprehensions a day and if we didn't meet that goal we were pressured to get more the next day," said Tony. The story goes on to say that they agents had to resort to going to home depos, clinics and other areas to detain people so they can meet their quota. "If we didn't find any we would go to Home Depot or day labor sites," he said. "We got an old guy stepping out of a medical clinic once." While everything in the story is being denied by The Border Patrol, we all know that it's true. It just goes to show you how bad things are getting. 

Citizen Arpaios?: Pro-Migrant SanctuarySphere

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Bender's Immigration Bulletin directs us to the story: Two women arrested after alleged kidnapping at Bellingham Wal-Mart.

NYTimes Takes on Sheriff Joe Arpaio at Latino Politico.

Racial Profiling in the Los Angeles Police Dept at Dream Act Texas.

Widow sues over man's death at immigration center at Just News.

Hiu Lui "Jason" Ng (HYEW' Lew Eng), a 34-year-old computer engineer accused of overstaying his visa, died of liver cancer in August, weeks after being taken to the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls. His cancer went undiagnosed until days before he died.


In support of the migrants who were chained together and marched through Phoenix by America's most out-of-control sheriff, hip-hop artists from Chicago, Detroit, and New York are coming together with local artists to perform on Tuesday, February 10 at the Stray Cat 2433 E. University Drive, Tempe, AZ at 8pm.

Performers will include One Be Lo, Wordsworth, Verbal Kent, G-Owens, Fiyah Station, Nobuddie, and Bliss!

Come out and lift your voices with these artists as they call for an end to the racially-motivated attacks being carried out by Sheriff Arpaio against residents of Maricopa County. Show the world that his latest spectacle of public humiliation against latinos will not be tolerated in our country, where all people are to be treated as equals. We will not stand silent while this fascist little man treats people like animals, with our federal government's blessing!
"Parading shackled detainees for public viewing is disgusting. The dire situation in Arizona is a shameful insult to the democratic freedoms of this country, and should draw cries of outrage from anyone who values the sacrifices our nation has made in the face of oppression." -Verbal Kent; Gravel Records Recording Artist
For more information, contact Jill Garvey (jill@newcomm.org), Center for New Community 312-266-0319 or 773-787-6353 (mobile).

Reflections on the Border Patrol

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When I was in college, 3,000 miles from where I am today, I was really stunned and distraught to read that many Border Patrol agents were Mexican-American. Though I knew very little about border dynamics at the time, I was struck by the lack of ethnic compassion and recognition of shared immigration stories. Deciding and then undeciding to do thesis research on the topic, it's ironic that by the force of fate, I ended up living and working on the border 3 years later and once again thinking about this tension.

What I initially found puzzling now makes a lot more sense. Although the explicit aim of the BP is to intercept illegal immigration, my conversations with BP agents have led me to believe that they are not consciously nativist in their aspirations. Rather I've found that they're focused on their personal goals for the job, "securing America" and "securing their jobs", their versions of doing good and doing well.

Nadler reintroducing UAFA before Valentine's Day! Urge your Rep to cosponsor! at Immigration Equality.(click on the link for instructions on contacting your representative.)

You can make the bill a success by convincing your Representative to support the bill from Day One. Reintroducing the bill with as many cosponsors as possible will show powerful momentum for the rights of gay and lesbian binational couples!

VOICES at Smart Borders. Here is an event brining people together to discuss the contributions immigrants have had on the economy in Minnesota. Also Nativists Unmasked- SPLC's February Report.

Paraded in Chains: Pro-Migrant SanctuarySphere

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Sorry for the long pause in my posting. I moved to Texas at the beginning of this year and have been working on getting things together. Part of this process involved finding a place to get some volunteer time in. The place I've been working with helps people living with HIV and other terminal illnesses. The majority of the people I work with are fabulous, quality people. However, during one of our volunteer meetings I was reminded of how much crap Mexican people have to deal with. The group was discussing an upcoming garage sale and possible items to sell. A white man in the group stated "how much can we get for five Mexicans?" This statement was met with much puzzlement as the group is made up of people of all races and is supposed to be based on showing compassion. He was called out for his statement still today he is still apologizing.

What is it that makes it ok to hate on Mexicans? And why when you're at an organization that helps people do you still encounter this sort of intolerance? I guess these are questions I'll never be able to answer. With that said, thanks for your patience and here are the stories from around the SanctuarySphere.

Chained Immigrants Paraded By Arizona Sheriff at Hatewatch. Also Racists Threaten To Abandon GOP Over Election Of First African-American Party Chairman and New SPLC Report: Three leading anti-immigration groups share extremist roots.

Inspiration

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I realy don't like regurtitating information, speacially from major media outlets like The L.A. Times, but there are exceptions to everything and this story is one of them. They published a story about a young lady who like many of us, has to over come extreme obsticles just to make it to school. " De La Cruz faces fairy tale odds." The one problem I had with the story is that if they're trying to put the spotlight on her journey and struggle, why would they use the term "illegal immigrant" instead of something more politically correct like undocumented resident or student. It's a good read if you have the time and if you're in need of a pick up, her story will hopefully inspire other's to contune on and not to give up. 
What did Deep Throat Say? "Follow the Money!" In 2007/2008, ICE stepped up their raids across the country. Ask yourself WHY!!
Let's start with three of the largest, most recent ICE raids. In New Bedford, MA., 300+ Seamstress Workers making backpacks were swept away to Texas Detention Centers. In Postville, IA, 500+ Meatpackers were swept off to Texas Detention Centers. In Laurel, MS, 600+ technical workers were swept off to a GEO Detention Center in Jena, LA. As I previously reported, GEO's Jena facility was newly opened in late 2007, projecting they would fill to capacity in 2008. The 2008 Laurel raid filled them to capacity.
How do these privately run prisons profit? They are paid per diem (per head/per day). Maximum profit is made if the centers are filled to capacity.
GEO Group has a long history of prisoner abuse. Records show these prisons have been cited for feces on walls, on sheets, on beds, vermin - rats, roaches, prisoners dying in custody due to no healthcare, prisoners sexually abused. The lawsuits detail the abuses. Contracts have been rescinded across the country due to the abuse. Last weekend, the second prison riot occurred within 2 months in the RCDC in Pecos Texas due to charges of inhumane treatment and death.
Ask yourself why GEO Group now focuses their lobbying to receive Detention Center contracts? Does anyone listen to the complaints of those in Detention Centers? Does anyone care about their abuse? Is the media reporting the conditions or the reason for rioting in the RCDC in Pecos, TX? Does anyone question why the GEO Detention Centers continue to be filled to capacity with detainees? The detainees should NOT be incarcerated for long periods of time, yet they are, many for months and years on end. Our nation is spending billions of dollars to detain hundreds of thousands of uncharged detainees. In some locations, entire families are incarcerated. Why? Per diem $$ paid per head/per day.
The Lobbyists:
The GEO Group spends millions of dollars lobbying and filling the pockets of Republican Texas State Congressmen and National Politicians, including their friends, George W. Bush and Tom Delay.
This article shows the following examples:
First, Ray Allen, the former Texas representative from Grand Prarie who chaired the House Committee on Corrections, and his former chief of staff, Scott Gilmore, are two of the biggest private prison lobbyists in the state. Gilmore and Allen took heat several years ago for working as lobbyists even while Allen was still a state representative. Allen was a major privatization advocate while a state representative and both he and Gilmore lobbied, while in office, for the National Correctional Industries Association - a group that advocates for prison labor and includes private prison corporations amongst its members.
Second, the troubled GEO Group spent the most on private prison lobbying in 2007 and actually upped its lobbying expenditures after scandals forced state hearings into private prison oversight. According to the report:
With its starring role in the scandal, Geo Group increased its Texas lobby spending tenfold, accounting for more than half of the lobby money that the industry spent in 2007.
(click
here for details)
It is imperative that Janet Napolitano and her teams investigate the GEO Group, the abuse in their centers and report back why GEO continues to abuse detainees or any prisoners. Ask why detainees are held for such long periods of time. Determine if it is the best use of ICE Funds to incarcerate seamstresses, meatpackers and technical workers for such long periods of time. Ask why these raids and suppression sweeps are not used for felonious criminals, gangs and stopping guns from going back into Mexico.
I came across the most extraordinary article in the New York Times this morning.  I've long known that unauthorized migrants pay billions in taxes, but I never thought I'd see law enforcement officials effectively punishing them for it.

The Weld County Sheriff's Office in Colorado has raided the offices of a local business, Amalia's Translation and Tax Services, in an attempt to crack-down on "identity theft" by unauthorized migrants.  The Postville raid taught us what pursuing unauthorized migrants for "identity theft" really means. 
I trust everyone has noticed the fresh perspectives on Citizen Orange.  I can't tell you how refreshing it is to have strong female and migrant voices displayed prominently on this page.  Read more below the fold.  


This week's Music on Monday is a movie. It's called Waltz with Bashir, and I haven't seen anything quite like it before.

The film represents director Ari Folman's efforts to deal with his memories of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. He was a teenage soldier in the war. Folman told the International Herald Tribune last year:


The film talks about lost memory and how you may have a different memory from what actually happened. It asks the question I had to ask myself: where does memory hide? And I hope that audiences will start wondering about themselves. Hopefully, when you've seen it, you think about yourself - not about the guy in the film.

My goal here is not to review the movie. Watch it in the theater if you can. It's amazing.


(Watching the movie also resulted in Public Image Ltd.'s "This is Not a Love Song" being stuck in my head in a continuous loop for the last two days. See if the same thing happens to you.)

As powerful as the film was, I left the theater feeling unsatisfied. I knew I had to blog about it. [Spoilers below.]

A Prison Uprising is underway at the Reeves County Detention Center (RCDC). This is the second uprising in 2 months. The detainees say prison conditions are inhumane and they lack needed medical treatment. The trigger setting them off in December was a prisoner dying.
This center is located in Pecos, Tx, an extremely "out of the way" location. It houses approximately 2,400 minimum security inmates and immigration detainees. It is operated by the GEO group. GEO attempted to cover up the reason for the prisoner's death by saying the young prisoner died of natural causes. The detainees, risking their lives, protested.
 
As I have previously reported, the GEO Group, is an international corporation that operates prisons around the country and is frequently in the news for its abuse of prisoners in its care resulting in many preventable deaths. At least eight people died at the Geo Group-operated George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Pennsylvania, the state's only privately run jail. Several of those deaths resulted in lawsuits by family members who say the facility did not provide adequate medical care or proper supervision for inmates.
GEO, based in Florida, also has been under fire in Texas, where it operates more than a dozen correctional facilities. Last fall, the Texas Youth Commission abruptly canceled its $8 million contract with GEO after investigators found unsanitary living conditions at its juvenile facility. Several of the teens said they were sexually assaulted by a guard who was a convicted sex offender, according to lawsuits. GEO lost its contract at an adult facility in west Texas last year after an inspector reportedly characterized the prison as "the worst correctional facility I have ever visited." The inspection was sparked by an inmate's suicide.
Texas legislators have called for a review of all of GEO's contracts with state and local agencies.

Message to Janet Napolitano: Please investigate the conditions in Detention Centers operated by the GEO Group.
Background:
The Reeves County Detention Center (RCDC), built in 1998, is publicly owned by the Reeves County Detention Center Trust and is the largest employer in Reeves County.
The center is funded based on per diem (charge per inmate/per day) paid by the Board of Prisons (BOP).
In 2003, most of the beds were empty and the center was going bankrupt. The County was in trouble. Federal contracts with county facilities do not stipulate how many prisoners are to be housed at a facility, and the 1000 beds in the latest addition to the RCDC remained empty. The BOP stated the problem was the location (out in the middle of nowhere) and it was far too costly to transport prisoners there.
In the summer of 2003, when default seemed imminent, county Judge Jimmy Galindo wrote a letter to his friend, President Bush, asking him to intervene and save the local economy by providing BOP prisoners for the facility. In November, 2003, the GEO Group, a large RNC contributor, was brought in to operate/manage the prison.
References:
3. GEO Group Abuses - Wikipedia
5. Jail Overcrowding (Randy DeLay (brother of Tom DeLay) hired)

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