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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

First look: Mayors press Biden on immigration

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A coalition of nearly 200 mayors and county executives is challenging Joe Biden and the incoming Congress to adopt a progressive immigration agenda that would give everyone a pathway to citizenship.

Why it matters: The group's goals, set out in a white paper released today, seem to fall slightly to the left of what the president-elect plans to propose on Inauguration Day — though not far — and come at a time of intense national polarization over immigration.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
1 min ago - Health

Demand for coronavirus vaccines is outstripping supply

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Now that nearly half of the U.S. population could be eligible for coronavirus vaccines, America is facing the problem experts thought we’d have all along: demand for the vaccine is outstripping supply.

Why it matters: The Trump administration’s call for states to open up vaccine access to all Americans 65 and older and adults with pre-existing conditions may have helped massage out some bottlenecks in the distribution process, but it’s also led to a different kind of chaos.

Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

Photo: FBI

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.