SunTrust Banks, the Atlanta-based bank giant that aims to merge with rival BB & T, announced Monday that it will stop providing financing to companies that operate immigration prisons and detention centers.
The announcement came amid reports that immigrant children were being held in overcrowded and unhealthy federal detention centers. President Donald Trump denied these reports on Twitter on Sunday, calling them "false and exaggerated."
"First, people should not enter our country illegally just so we have to take care of them. We should first focus on … the citizens of the United States, "he tweeted. "Border Patrol and others in law enforcement have done a great job."
Correction companies affected by the bank's decision defended themselves and accused SunTrust of yielding to political pressure and not investigating the facts.
SunTrust did not specify this, which prompted his move, although his decision followed an online petition by various activist groups opposing the Trump administration's immigration policy.
Bank of America struck a similar position last month, just days after the hopes of Democratic President Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts announced her plans to ban private prisons. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. entered into similar commitments earlier this year.
"Following a continuous and deliberate process, SunTrust has decided to stop providing funds to companies managing private prisons and immigration detention facilities in the future." SunTrust said in a prepared statement. "This decision was made after careful consideration of our stakeholders' views on this highly complex issue."
As the largest bank in Georgia, SunTrust is also number one in Metro Atlanta in deposits and employs approximately 8,000 people in the US federal government State. This year, plans are to work with BB & T, a lender in Winston-Salem, NC, who has a regional hub in Atlantic Station and fourth place in deposits and retail outlets in the metropolitan area. The $ 66 billion all-stock combination will be the sixth largest bank in the US. A BB & T spokesman said the bank offered no funding for the private jail industry.
The Department of Homeland Security and US Immigration and Customs did not respond to requests for comments on Monday. The Federal Bureau of Prisons declined to comment.
Some of the largest industries in the Peach State are routinely drawn into heated public policy debates. For example, Hollywood studios have warned of economic consequences since Governor Brian Kemp introduced new abortion restrictions this year. But the powerful Georgian companies that have decided against a measure of "religious freedom" for Georgia have ignored the anti-abortion law.
Businesses are exposed to risks that affect hot-button issues. Last year, Delta Air Lines severed marketing ties with the National Rifle Association, which angered some conservatives and led each of the leading Republican governor candidates to reject a tax exemption for jet fuel in the tens of millions for the Atlanta-based airline.
Wall Street banks, including SunTrust, with two major correction firms, CoreCivic of Nashville and Boca Raton of Florida, have signed loan agreements totaling $ 2.6 billion in interest, Public said Accountability Initiative and the Center for Popular Democracy.
CoreCivic, which employs 1,581 people in Georgia, operates the sprawling Stewart Detention Center, a federal immigration holding in South Georgia. The GEO Group employs 1,200 people in Georgia and operates the Folkston ICE Processing Center, an immigration detention center near the Georgia-Georgia border. It also runs the detention center of Robert A. Deyton in Lovejoy, where ICE has been detaining some of its detainees since last year.
Both companies criticized SunTrust's decision, stressing that they are not imprisoning children.
This decision is about resisting political pressure based on false and misleading statements about our company, "said CoreCivic spokeswoman Amanda Gilchrist. "Despite allegations of a thorough review process, these banks have joined a small group of activists rather than engage in constructive fact-based dialogue."
Gilchrist added that SunTrust "has a contractual obligation to continue to work with our company assume that SunTrust and others will fully honor their commitments. Suntrust declined to comment.
GEO issued a prepared statement stating that "misleading political activism can have a decade. long banking relationship. "
" The divestment efforts against our company are based on a misrepresentation, "said GEO," and a deliberate misjudgment of our role as a long-standing government service provider. "
Families belong together The Corporate Accountability Committee, made up of more than 100 organizations, called on other banks to follow SunTrust's leadership.
"The Decision of SunTrust Recruitment of new funding for the private prison industry and immigration detention centers is evidence of the growing strength of our movement and the power of ordinary people to stand up for what is right. "The committee said in a statement. "Millions of people and more than 100 organizations have made their voices heard, signed petitions, and protested against bank branches and headquarters to demand the end of financing an industry that benefits from the Colored and Immigrant cage."
real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to the Atlanta Journal Constitution today.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reports and research to keep you up to date. Thank you for supporting genuine journalism.