“As defense contracts diminish, border security becomes a bigger part of their profit sector,” says
who tracks drone contracts for the Center for International Policy, a left-leaning think tank.
Drones also provide an x-
ray of the border, says Meissner, director of the MPI’s immigration
information which allows agencies to gauge the number of illegal border crossings againstapprehensions and better estimate the level of migration flow.
The immigration reform bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee would expand prosecutionsof illegal
border crossers in the Tucson, Arizona sector from 70 to 210 per day, building on years of increased crimina-
lizing of immigration offenses. Immigration cases now represent the bulk of federal criminal cases,40 percent,according to a report by the U.S. Department of Justice.If Congress expands criminal prosecutions further, private prison companies stand to win millions ofdollarsworth federal contracts to house and monitor immigrants. The Correctional Corporation of America,the GeoGroup, along with Management and Training Corporation, spent an estimated $45 million in lobbyingandcampaign donations over the past decade, according to an Associated Press investigation publishedlate lastyear.The immigrant detainee population has surged from roughly 85,000 in the mid 1990s to 400,000annually, with
me 33,000 detainees held on any given day in privately run facilities scattered across the country.
The Florida-based Geo Group paid $40,000 to Navigators Global, a Washington firm, to lobby on"immigration
related matters," according to a recent lobbying disclosure filing and first reported in The Nation.The Geo
Group is based in Florida, home of Senator Marco Rubio, who has emerged as a central figure in theimmigration
reform battle. And the lobbying firm was founded by Cesar Conda, Rubio's chief of staff.
"No one here has been guided by anything of that sort," said Alex Burgos, a spokesperson for Rubio,referring to
lobbying interests. "We're guided by a set of principles."
Pablo Paez, vice president of corporate relations, said in a written statement that Geo Groupdiscussions with
lawmakers "have never been aimed at influencing immigration policy or influencing the outcomeof immigrationreform." Paez wrote that the lobbying efforts related "exclusively" to detention issues. "Our