Politics

AOC Threats Against Private Prisons Echo Obama’s Crackdown On Payday Lenders, Finance Expert Says

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York proposed questioning banking executives in front of Congress on lending to private prisons that hold illegal aliens.

“We’re going to hold oversight hearings to make these banks accountable for investing in and making money off of the detention of immigrants, because it’s wrong,” Ocasio-Cortezsaid while speaking to Make The Road NY, a legal nonprofit representing minorities and immigrants. (RELATED: Ocasio-Cortez Says She’s ‘The Boss’ After Rolling Out Green New Deal)

Ocasio-Cortez sits on the House Financial Services Committee.

“What you have here is something like a rerun of the Choke Point strategy,” R-Street senior fellow and finance expert Alex Pollock told The Daily Caller News Foundation, referring to Ocasio-Cortez‘s comments.

Operation Choke Point marred the second half of the Obama administration. The scandal involved an administration crackdown on payday lenders through the banks. The strategy was meant to weed out illegal operations, but hit lenders across the board, including those who were fully licensed.

The Obama Justice Department spearheaded the operation and enlisted the help of personnel in the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Regulators pressured banks to cut off business relationships with payday lenders. Some did and the businesses were barred from using banks to make financial transactions.

“If you don’t like [a form of business] for political or ideological reasons, you figure you can attack them through the banking system, just the way the regulators thought they would attack payday lenders,” Pollock said.

Ocasio-Cortez is unlikely to pull off something as intricate and damaging as Operation Choke Point without the help of federal regulators, which is highly unlikely during the Trump administration, but the veneer of the threat still exists.

Private prisons partner with law enforcement to detain and imprison immigrants who cross into the U.S. illegally. Like most businesses, the private prisons rely on banks for financing and other services. Cutting off that relationship could be devastating.

Pressuring banks is “a targeted way to go after somebody you don’t like. This strikes me as the same,” Pollack told TheDCNF.

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