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Billions of dollars from teachers' pensions have been invested into private prisons that have detained captured undocumented immigrants near the southern border, according to a new report from The American Federation of Teachers.

Expand chart
Adapted from an American Fedration of Teachers report; Note: General Dynamics’s core business is not operating private prisons, but is included because it has contracts with migrant shelters; Table: Axios Visuals

The big picture: AFT, which has 1.7 million total members, says that it kept receiving requests for information from members who expressed concerns about indirectly supporting private prisons used to separate families and detain immigrants.

The details: More than $10 billion was invested into private jail operators GEO Group and CoreCivic, as well as defense contractor General Dynamics, which has worked with the Department of Health and Human services.

  • General Dynamics received the most investment from teacher pension funds, at just over $10 billion through August 7, 2018.

What they're saying: AFT is urging pension fund managers to divest, arguing that not only are these investments ethically questionable, but that they also may be bad business.

  • AFT argues that these companies have benefited from the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, as well as from a policy that allows federal inmates to be housed at private prisons — but both could be reversed.
  • Per AFT President Randi Weingarten: "Hedge funds that invest in private prisons are not only profiting off a broken justice system and abetting the administration’s policies of family separation ... They are also making a risky bet on an industry rightfully under siege."

The other side: GeoGroup said in a statement that it has never managed facilities housing unaccompanied minors or provided services for that purpose, and describes the AFT report as "outrageous." Neither CoreCivic nor General Dynamics returned requests for comment.

Go deeper

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause (R), chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality, or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.

5 hours ago - World

Iran agrees to resume Vienna nuclear talks in November

Ali Bagheri (R) with Enrique Mora in Tehran on Oct. 14. Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry handout via Getty

Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator said following a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Iran would resume negotiations in Vienna before the end of November, with the exact date to be set next week.

Why it matters: The Vienna talks have been frozen since Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June. This is the most direct commitment from Raisi's government to return to the negotiating table.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).