Boca Raton’s GEO Group is Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s single biggest contractor, with more than $400 million worth of deals to run private prisons, including the Broward Transitional Center, a site housing “low-priority” detainees. As the Trump administration has ripped families apart and jailed immigrants with no criminal records, GEO has come under heavy fire for making huge profits from those policies.
Now, GEO has a new strategy to combat that criticism: threatening to sue the civil-rights activists mounting the protests.
On Friday, GEO sent a cease-and-desist letter to Dream Defenders, a Florida group that has organized statewide protests against GEO and, in July, convinced the Florida Democratic Party to stop taking any donations from private-prison companies like GEO. In the letter, GEO claims that Dream Defenders are using “false information” to incite violence against GEO facilities.
“It is clear that Dream Defenders published knowingly false statements regarding GEO in an attempt to incite others to engage in potentially violent and harmful behavior directed at GEO facilities,” reads the letter sent from Philadelphia-based attorney Carolyn P. Short of the Holland & Knight firm.
In a scathing response, the group hit back this morning with a point-by-point dissection of the supposedly “false” claims it had made against GEO Group and offering evidence that each criticism — including allegations that GEO is “caging children” and jailing poor black, Latino, and white people — is, in fact, accurate.
“You had the audacity to allege that the Dream Defenders, a group of young people of color who are advocating for our basic human rights, are exhibiting ‘threatening and violent behavior toward GEO,'” the group says in its response letter. “We are advocating the end to your harmful and violent carceral behavior, which countless news reports, lawsuits, and government investigations have already established.”
Dream Defenders, which was founded in 2012, has regularly protested GEO Group’s private prison work, including in a new video series launched in July called “Dream Killers.” The series uses a child actor to talk about GEO’s political influence. The Defenders are also planning nationwide GEO protests tomorrow.