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Georgia's largest bank for cutting ties with private prison industry



SunTrust Banks, the Atlanta-based bank giant set to merge with rival BB & T, announced on Monday that it would no longer provide funding to companies operating prisons and immigration inhibitors, and become the last lender to cut bonds private individuals The correction industry.

The announcement came among reports that immigrant children have been held in crowded and unhealthy federal detention facilities. President Donald Trump denied these reports on Sunday on Twitter, calling them "fake and exaggerated."

"First and foremost, people shouldn't get into our country illegally, just because we have to take care of them. We should be allowed to focus on … United States Citizens first," he tweeted. "Border Patrol, and others in Law Enforcement, have done a good job."

The corrections the companies affected by the bank's decision defended themselves, accusing SunTrust of bowing to political pressure and not investigating the facts.

SunTrust did not specify what was asked to move, although the decision followed an online petition from various activist groups who opposed the Trump administration's immigration policies.

Bank of America stuck out a similar position last month, just days after Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts announced his plans to ban privacy. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. have made similar commitments earlier this year.

"Following an ongoing and deliberate process, SunTrust has decided not to provide future funding to companies managing private prisons and immigration holding facilities," SunTrust said in a prepared statement. "This decision was made following a comprehensive assessment of the views of our stakeholders on this deeply complex issue."

SunTrust is the largest bank in Georgia and is also No. 1

in metro Atlanta for deposits and has approximately 8,000 state employees. It plans to combine this year with BB & T, a Winston-Salem, N.C. Lender who has a regional hub in Atlantic Station, and places fourth total deposits and outlets in the metropolitan area. The $ 66 billion stock purchase combination will create the sixth largest US bank. A BB & T spokesman said that the bank does not provide funding to the private prison industry.

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The Department of Homeland Security and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not respond to comment Monday's requests. The federal prison office refused to comment.

Some of the Peach State's largest industries are routinely drawn into fierce public policy debates. For example, Hollywood studios have warned about financial consequences since Gov. Brian Kemp signed new abortion restrictions this year. But the powerful Georgia companies who have strongly opposed a "religious freedom" survey for Georgia have stayed in Mum about the anti-abortion law.

Businesses face the risk of weighing in on hot-button issues. Last year Delta Air Line deleted the marketing band with the National Rifle Association, which confused some conservatives and asked each of the leading Republican candidates for governor to oppose a tax exemption for jet fuel worth tens of thousands of dollars to Atlanta-based

Wall Street Banks, including SunTrust, have a total of $ 2.6 billion credit plans with two major fixes, Nashville-based CoreCivic and Boca Raton, the FLA-based GEO Group, according to a report released in April by In the Public Interest, Public Accountability Initiative and the center of popular democracy.

CoreCivic, which employs 1,581 employees in Georgia, runs the scattered Stewart Detention Center, a federal immigration holding facility in South Georgia. The GEO Group has 1,200 employees in Georgia and runs the Folkston ICE Processing Center, an immigration restoration facility near the Georgia-Florida border. It also operates Robert A. Deyton Detention Facility in Lovejoy, where ICE began holding some of its detainees last year.

Both companies criticized SunTrust's decision and stressed that they did not maintain children.

"Like others before that, this decision is about cave to political pressure based on false and misleading statements about our company," said CoreCivic spokeswoman Amanda Gilchrist. "Despite claims for a thorough review process, these banks have given up a small group of activists rather than engaging in a constructive dialogue on facts. "

Gilchrist added that SunTrust" has a contractual obligation to continue working with our company through the expiry of our 2023 joint venture. We fully expect SunTrust and others to respect their obligations. "Suntrust refused to comment on it.

GEO published a prepared statement stating that" misleading political activism has been allowed to influence a decade-long relationship. "

" The sales effort against our company is based on a false narrative, "says GEO," and a deliberate mischaracterization of our role as a long-standing government service provider. "

Monday the Families Join Together Corporate Accountability Committee, consisting of more than 100 organizations, encouraged other banks to follow SunTrust's management.

" SunTrust's decisions to stop new funding for the private prison industry and immigrant holders are proof of the growing strength of our movement and the power of everyday people stand up for what is right, the committee said in a statement. "Millions of people and more than 100 organizations have heard their voices heard, signed petitions, and protested bank branches and headquarters to demand an end to funding an industry that benefits from the cage of people of color and immigrants."