NJ Pension Fund Dumps Investment In ICE Private Prison Contractor
New Jersey has dumped its small holding in a private prison contractor that runs family detention centers amid increased scrutiny of the Trump administration's immigration policy.
The $78.6 billion public worker pension fund last week sold its $1.3 million investment in Florida-based Geo Group, one of the U.S.'s largest private prison contractors.
"Our Division of Investment reviewed the investment merits, including consideration of environmental, social and governance issues, and consistent with its fiduciary responsibility elected to sell the security and the transaction was completed last Thursday," Treasury Department spokeswoman Jennifer Sciortino said in a statement Wednesday. The holding was sold on Aug. 23.
The move follows a call from the American Federation of Teachers for public pension funds to root out their investments in these companies, or when possible, to use their leverage to "demand that they adopt policies to ensure just and humane treatment of detainees, which necessarily includes canceling any contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement."
The Trump administration came under fire when under its "zero tolerance" police for adults crossing the border began separation parents and children. Audio recordings of young children calling for their mothers and fathers fueled backlash over the new policy. The administration has been ordered by a federal court judge to reunite separated families.
"The family separation crisis is not only a humanitarian issue but an investment issue, to which public pension fund trustees should give careful consideration," the AFT said in its report.
The pension fund still owns $156 million in equity and fixed income investments in defense contractor General Dynamics, which has said it has "no role in the family separation policy, nor a role in the construction or operation of detention facilities."
"General Dynamics Information Technology has provided support to unaccompanied minors through its work with the Office of Refugee Resettlement," the contractor said in a statement. "This includes casework support services to help ensure special needs of unaccompanied children are met."
It was reported by documentedny.com last week that New Jersey's much smaller employee deferred compensation plan purchased nearly $1 billion in stock in Geo Group and CoreCivic, another ICE contractor. Tennessee-based CoreCivic runs the Elizabeth Detention Center, an ICE facility in Elizabeth.
CoreCivic says it does not house unaccompanied children in its facilities.
"We also do not enforce immigration laws or policies or have any say whatsoever in an individual's deportation or release," the company said in a statement.