National Public Radio says an investigation revealed a “quiet, behind-the-scenes effort to help draft and pass Arizona Senate Bill 1070 by an industry that stands to benefit from it: the private prison industry.” Based on its review of campaign finance reports, lobbying documents and corporate records, NPR says the anti-immigration law amounted to “a new business model to lock up illegal immigrants.”
The law is being challenged in the courts. But if it’s upheld, it requires police to lock up anyone they stop who cannot show proof they entered the country legally. NPR says the law, which could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to private prison companies, was born at a meeting last December at a Washington, D.C., hotel of a secretive group called the American Legislative Exchange Council. It’s a membership organization of state legislators and powerful corporations and associations, such as the tobacco company Reynolds American Inc., ExxonMobil and the NRA. Another member is the Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison company in the country. The 50 or so people at the hotel meeting included officials of the CCA, sources said.