Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accused Wells Fargo Tuesday of being “involved” in family separations at the border because of the bank’s prior financing of groups that run private prisons.
During a hearing on Wells Fargo’s business practices in the House Oversight Committee, Ocasio-Cortez demanded to know why “the bank [was] involved in the caging of children.”
“Mr. Sloan, why was the bank involved in the caging of children and financing the caging of children to begin with?” Ocasio-Cortez asked Wells Fargo president and CEO Timothy Sloan.
“Uh, I don’t know how to answer that question because we weren’t,” Sloan replied.
“Uh, so in finance — you, you were financing and involved in financing of debt of CoreCivic and Geo Group, correct?” Ocasio-Cortez asked.
Sloan answered, “For a period of time, we were involved in financing one of the firms — we’re not anymore and the other. I’m not familiar with the specific assertion that you’re making, but we weren’t directly involved in that.”
“OK, so these companies run private detention facilities run by ICE, which is involved in caging children, but I’ll move on,” Ocasio-Cortez conceded.
CoreCivic and Geo Group are two of the largest operators of private prison and detention centers, including some facilities used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Wells Fargo and other banks recently reevaluated their loaning activities to these groups after outcry over the Trump administration’s immigration policies. (RELATED: Trump Signs Executive Action To End Family Separation)
In January, Wells Fargo said, “Our credit exposure to private prison companies has significantly decreased and is expected to continue to decline, and we are not actively marketing to that sector.”
CoreCivic and Geo Group both claimed that they never housed unaccompanied migrant children in their facilities.
Geo Group provided the following statement about the allegations to the Caller:
“This is a deliberate lie driven by an agenda aimed at abolishing ICE, knowing that we have nothing to do with passing, setting, or advocating for or against immigration laws or policies. Our company has never managed facilities that house unaccompanied minors, and we have played no role with policies related to the separation of families. In fact, our Karnes Family Residential Center allows for families to be cared for together and was established by the Obama Administration in 2014. The contractual services we provide for ICE today are no different than the services we provided for eight years under the Obama Administration.”
CoreCivic similarly said, “We do not and have not ever provided housing for any children who aren’t under the supervision of a parent. We do not and have not ever operated shelters for unaccompanied minors, and we don’t operate border patrol facilities.”