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Private Prisons and the Shift in Marketplace From the War on Drugs to the War on Terror

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Abstract

This paper outlines the emergence of a new marketplace in the United States, immigration detention, especially after September 11th. This phenomenon is not limited to the United States, but is also observable in other countries as the result of the globalized economy. This paper first explains how the private prison industry adapted from shaping harsh drug law sentencing during the War on Drugs to now sponsoring legislative bills that target immigrants, the new “cash crop” for the private prison industry. Because of the securitization of immigration governance, politics of fear are easily used to justify and build public support for a tough stance on immigration. The end result is that immigrant detention is a highly lucrative and record-breaking profitable enterprise for private prison corporations, with little accountability in its treatment of immigrants and with more and more power in sponsoring and shaping legislation beneficial to their bottom line. Implications now that Trump, who ran a very xenophobic presidential campaign especially hostile to Mexicans and Muslims, are discussed.

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