Complicated Evil

By Bill Mefford

In 1971, Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell wrote a memo to his friend and neighbor who worked for the national Chamber of Commerce. In this memo Justice Powell urged the Chamber of Commerce to fight back against what Powell believed was a national attack on the US free enterprise system. Powell had been a corporate lawyer of course and one of his clients was tobacco industry giant, Phillip Morris. Powell was concerned that the numerous freedoms won in the 1960s by people historically marginalized was going to forever change the fundamental nature of the United States.

Lewis’ memo ended up being somewhat of a blueprint for the rise of a coalition of political operatives and activists, arch-conservative media, right wing think tanks, and funding corporate moguls intent on protecting their position as the elite, powerful, moneyed, political class. The Heritage Foundation, the Olin Foundation, and the American Legislative Exchange Council were some of the groups that emerged from this concerted effort.

With the infrastructure that has been created over the past fifty years we should not be surprised that there are powerful interests that are working to ensure that the United States government – supported by much of the US public – believe that the answer to every ill we face as a nation can be attained through some form of corporate spending, or tax cuts that supposedly will allow corporations to spend more. The immigration issue is no different in this regard.

The framework for what currently makes up the essence of our immigration system was the 1965 Immigration and Nationalization Act – six full years before Justice Powell’s memo and right smack dab in the middle of the civil rights movement. This legislation is perhaps the last time an immigration bill of this size dealt with this issue from a human rights perspective as the primary framework.

Flash forward 50+ years and the primary framework for addressing immigration issues has absolutely nothing to do with human rights. In fact, from having worked on this issue on Capital Hill for ten years I can tell you that using a human rights frame when advocating House and Senate offices often got us laughed out of Member offices – from both Republicans and Democrats. Prior to this year’s freshman class of Representatives, almost no one wanted to talk about the human rights of migrants.

No, immigration is now fully an economic and national security issue. Trump and his Republican lackeys are proposing a merit-based system, first proposed in 2008 by Senator Kyl of Arizona, that will judge all migrants on how economically useful they are to us, throwing the rest of them to the waste side. Long gone are any remnants of institutional or collective compassion or empathy. The US is open for business only and if you don’t help us on our bottom line, then screw you. Even the Evangelical Immigration Table – supposedly these are the “good evangelical organizations” who care about immigrants – adopted as one of their core statements of principles the principle of advocating for “fairness to the taxpayers.” No kidding.

This is what you get when market forces band together and decide society has become too compassionate and too open and instead, we need more of Darwin’s survival of the fittest; well, that’s survival of the fittest at least for poor people. The elitist, moneyed, political classes do not believe in the survival of the fittest for none of them would survive. They believe in the survival of the richest and most connected for they are the ones who get subsidies, tax write-offs, and thousand-dollar-an-hour-lobbyists to ensure that their interests remain the highest concern of our elected “leaders.”

This is when you look at the ICE raids that are supposed to be under way this weekend you will find a who’s who of corporations benefiting from this most recent use of state-sponsored terror directed against people of color. Thanks to this most helpful article, here is a partial list of corporations that are profiting from aspects of immigration enforcement (and again, these are just some):

·         Detention facilities: GEO Group, Core Civic, LaSalle Corrections, Global Precision Systems

·         Telephone: Centurylink, GTL, Securus Technologies,

·         Transportation: CSI Aviation, Global Precision Systems, Trailboss

·         Medical: Correct Care Solutions, Corizon Health, Southern Health Partners, ConMed

·         Food & Commissary: Aramark, Compass Group, Keefe Group

·         Financial Services: Western Union, Keefe Group, GTL, Securus Technologies

·         Inspections: Creative Corrections Education Foundation, Danya International LLC

If you are like me, I do not know most of these corporations, but the amount of money being made by people who are making it from the suffering of innumerable people who these profiteers will never meet or know – all of this is obscene.

The market should serve a limited function in our lives and from Scripture, it was meant to serve solely for the betterment of peoples’ lives and to ease suffering. The market is meant for the well-being of all people; not the enriching of a few at the expense of masses. Suffering now is a direct consequence of an overly powerful and incredibly entrenched moneyed, elite, political class that does not see the faces of those oppressed by our racist and terroristic policies. They only see green.

This is what complicated evil looks like.

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