Groups Petition Regions Bank to Withdraw From Business with Private Prisons and Immigrant Detention Centers

Families Belong Together demonstrated in Bothell, Washington, last year against the Trump administration policy of separating families at the U.S./Mexico border. (Source: Joe Mabel [CC BY 4.0])
A coalition of about 100 organizations nationwide delivered petitions to Regions Bank headquarters in Birmingham on Thursday asking the bank to not do business with companies that run private prisons and immigrant detention centers.

Also Thursday, the group, functioning under the banner of Families Belong Together, delivered similar petitions to Citizens Bank in Providence, Rhodes Island, and to Pinnacle and Synovus Banks in Nashville.

Xochitl Oseguera of delivered the petitions to Regions Thursday. is a member of the coalition and serves as its communications arm.

The coalition is made up of 100 grassroots organizations. It came into being last year when President Trump announced his zero-tolerance policy for immigrants, which resulted in about 3,000 children being separated from their families and about 70,000 immigrants being imprisoned.

Families Belong Together, along with shareholders, policymakers and investors, have been the catalysts in persuading the banks to withhold some $2.4 billion in lines of credit and loans to private prison businesses, according to a Wall Street Journal article published last month.

The eight major banks are JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, SunTrust, BNP Paribas, Fifth Third Bank, Barclays and PNC, The banks have committed to not renew the estimated $2.4 billion.

The funds represent an estimated 87.4% of known financing for GEO Group and Core Civic, two major private prison companies, according to the coalition.

Private prisons detain more than 70 percent of immigrants in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

CoreCivic and GEO Group depend on debt financing from banks to conduct their day-to-day business operations, finance new facilities and acquire smaller companies, according to the coalition.

The coalition letter presented to Regions along with the petitions asked the bank “to support immigrant children and families and the communities of color you serve by ending financing of private prison and private immigrant detention centers. There should be no profits from the pain and suffering of families.

“In doing so, Regions and Citizens Bank are profiting from mass incarceration and the criminalization of immigration,” the letter continued.

Regions officials responded to a comment request Friday, saying, “We recognize that people have differing views about the private sector’s involvement in prisons and we continue to monitor the industry.

“This is an important and complex issue that we believe government officials and policymakers are in the best position to address directly.”