Immigrant rights advocates and organizers protesting the Trump administration’s policies celebrated a victory this week after JPMorgan Chase & Company said it would no longer finance private operators of prisons and detention centers.
As the administration has stepped up efforts to detain undocumented migrants, privately run prisons have become the government’s default detention centers for them, despite reports questioning the facilities’ safety. In addition to securing lucrative government contracts, these private companies have also borrowed money from large banks.
A spokesman for JPMorgan Chase & Company, Andrew Gray, said on Tuesday the company had “a robust and well established process to evaluate the sectors that we serve.”
“As part of this process,” he said, “we will no longer bank the private prison industry.”
Mr. Gray did not immediately respond to a question about whether the decision was related to public pressure.
Last year, two of the country’s largest private prison companies, CoreCivic and GEO Group, borrowed about $1.8 billion from several banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Matthew Toole, deals intelligence director at Refinitiv, said on Wednesday. Prison finance represents a small portion of the bank’s overall business, according to Reuters.
While facilities operated by private companies house about 9 percent of the country’s prison population, they hold about three-quarters of immigrant detainees.
On Valentine’s Day this year, an immigrants rights group, Make the Road New York, sent a mariachi band and protesters with “Break Up With Prisons” signs to the townhouse of JPMorgan Chase & Company’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon.
“If we come together and are diligent,” Javier H. Valdés, the group’s co-executive director, said Tuesday, to “build strong coalitions and work with powerful allies, we can actually win and help shift the narrative of enforcement in this country.”
Ms. Archila, one of several protesters arrested on charges of blocking the entrance to the bank’s headquarters in Manhattan in May 2017, said targeting the financial services industry was a new frontier in the campaign for immigrants’ rights.
“In some ways, the Trump era is one of fighting against incredible odds, to protect our communities, to protect ourselves, to protect each other,” she said.