July 2018, Week 4


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 		 [The Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE) and LittleSis
have released a report, Ban Them: Taking on the Corporations Behind
the Muslim Ban, which looks at the companies that profit off
anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant policies] [https://portside.org/] 



 Saqib Bhatti and Molly Gott 
 July 20, 2018
Working In These Times

	* [https://portside.org/node/17756/printable/print]

 _ The Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE) and LittleSis have
released a report, Ban Them: Taking on the Corporations Behind the
Muslim Ban, which looks at the companies that profit off anti-Muslim
and anti-immigrant policies _ 

 A new report looks at the companies that either directly profit off
anti-Muslim policies or that finance the politicians who support these
policies., Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images 


Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court officially gave its seal of
approval to discrimination against Muslims by upholding President
Trump’s Muslim ban. With all three branches of the federal
government now apparently united in their anti-Muslim animus, it is
clearer than ever that we cannot wait for our public officials to see
the folly of their ways and right this wrong. 

That is why on June 29th, we at the Action Center on Race and the
Economy (ACRE) and LittleSis released a report, _Ban Them: Taking on
the Corporations Behind the Muslim Ban_
[https://www.acrecampaigns.org/ban-them]_,_ which looks at the
companies that either directly profit off anti-Muslim and
anti-immigrant policies or that finance the politicians who support
these policies. Our goal is to inspire campaigns that force these
companies to stop promoting Islamophobia.

When we think of anti-Muslim corporations, organizations like
Breitbart News and News Corp may come to mind. However, these
companies make for poor targets because hate- and fearmongering are a
core part of their business models. Similarly, defense contractors
like Halliburton, Blackwater and Caterpillar—as well as Big Oil
companies like ExxonMobil and BP—depend on war in Muslim-majority
countries for their profits. They need a large portion of Americans to
view Muslims as the enemy in order to survive and thrive. This also
makes them imperfect targets.

However, there is a different set of companies—companies whose
executives are brand-sensitive and want to appear cosmopolitan and
multicultural, many of whom count large numbers of Muslims among their
customers, but who nevertheless help prop up Islamophobia and our
brutal anti-immigrant regime. This includes, for example, corporations
who are major donors to anti-Muslim politicians like Rep. Steve King
from Iowa and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It also includes
companies that profit from and enable immigrant detention,
incarceration and surveillance.


Rep. King may well be the most racist member of Congress. He is
certainly the most anti-Muslim. Just last month, he encouraged
meat-packing plants in his district to discriminate against Muslim
Last year, King tweeted out an endorsement of the far-right Dutch
politician Geert Wilders, who has compared the Qur’an to Hitler’s
_Mein Kampf_
writing, “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our
destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s

It is not a stretch to say that Senator Mitch McConnell gave us the
Muslim ban
McConnell masterminded the theft of Obama’s Supreme Court pick by
refusing to schedule hearings for Merrick Garland and made it possible
for Trump to appoint Neil Gorsuch to the bench, which gave Trump the
fifth vote he needed to uphold the ban.

Both King and McConnell receive major funding from Wall Street. Over
the course of King’s political career, his second biggest campaign
donor has been the American Bankers Association (ABA), the leading
industry association of big banks like Wells Fargo, JPMorgan
Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, U.S. Bank and Goldman Sachs.
JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America both have representatives on
the ABA’s board

The ABA gets its money from its member banks, and banks often rely on
the ABA to do their lobbying and push their agenda without getting
their own hands dirty. All of these banks are indirectly funding Steve
King. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is another one of
King’s top campaign contributors
Berkshire Hathaway is the largest shareholder
[http://www.businessinsider.com/warren-buffett-bank-of-america-wells-fargo-largest-shareholder-stake-2017-6] in
both Wells Fargo and Bank of America and a major shareholder in
Goldman Sachs and U.S. Bancorp (the parent company of U.S. Bank).

The Blackstone Group, the world’s largest private equity firm and a
Wall Street giant, is McConnell’s top donor. Blackstone’s
investments include companies like Versace, Crocs, Motel 6
and Michaels craft stores. Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman was
also the Chairman of Trump’s business council before it disbanded.
Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and the Swiss
bank UBS are also among McConnell’s top campaign contributors
as is Elliott Management, the hedge fund run by Paul Singer. All of
these companies are complicit in the theft of Obama’s Supreme Court
pick, which has given us the conservative majority we now have today.

One company that is on the list of both King and McConnell’s top
donors is AT&T. Even though thousands of American Muslims are AT&T
customers, by giving so much money to these anti-Muslim politicians,
the company is actually a leader in promoting discrimination against
Muslims in the United States. AT&T also has a history of
discriminating against Muslims in its own workforce. In 2012, a jury
awarded a Muslim former AT&T worker a $5 million award over punitive

Some of these corporations may claim that they only contribute to a
politician because they support their regulatory policies and not
their xenophobic ones. However, once they are in office, these
politicians are pushing a racist agenda, so any corporation that helps
catapult them into office is complicit in their Islamophobia and white


The role of anti-Muslim fervor and Islamophobia in the immigration
debate cannot be overstated. It is immigrants and refugees from
Muslim-majority countries that are the most directly affected by
Trump’s Muslim ban. It is also important to remember that ICE was
first created after 9/11 as part of the Bush Administration’s
efforts to clamp down on immigrants from Muslim-majority countries as
part of the so-called War on Terror.

The same zero-tolerance immigration policies that are separating
families at the Southern border are also separating Muslim families,
and the Muslim ban is a part of that framework. The same detention
centers that are used to lock up migrants from Latin America are also
used to lock up Muslim immigrants. This means that the companies that
are profiting from Trump’s immigration policies are also all
responsible for creating a culture of Islamophobia in this country.

As of March, 71 percent of immigrant detention beds
in the United States were run by private prison companies. The two
largest private prison companies in the world—which control a large
portion of these beds—are GEO Group and CoreCivic. Although
demanding that these private prison companies stop locking up people
of color is also akin to asking someone to stop breathing, there are
other companies that enable these immigrant detention profiteers that
are more susceptible to public pressure.

A slew of big banks provide financing to and are major investors in
these private prison companies. A 2016 report from In The Public
[https://www.inthepublicinterest.org/wp-content/uploads/ITPI_BanksPrivatePrisonCompanies_Nov2016.pdf] identified
six banks as the primary financiers of GEO and CoreCivic: Wells
Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, BNP Paribas (which owns
Bank of the West and is the largest investor in First Hawaiian
Bank), SunTrust and U.S. Bancorp. As of 2016, both companies had
$900 million in lines of credit from this consortium of banks. Wells
Fargo stands out, as it served as the largest underwriter of corporate
bonds for both GEO and CoreCivic. Wells Fargo has been one of the top
[https://www.salon.com/2012/04/11/wells_fargos_prison_cash_cow/] in
GEO in the past, and the bank still has over $16 million invested in
CoreCivic and $10 million invested in GEO.

It’s not just private prison companies that are partnering with ICE
to enforce our brutal immigration policies. In the wake of the public
outcry over the Trump administration’s policy of separating children
from their parents who are detained at the U.S.-Mexico border, tech
[https://gizmodo.com/turns-out-all-kinds-of-tech-companies-are-working-with-1827006046] have
also come under scrutiny for their contracts with ICE. These companies
provide a wide variety of hardware, services and infrastructure
[http://time.com/money/5318933/organizations-doing-business-with-ice/] to
the agency, including systems for tracking immigrants, mobile radio
communications and tactical communications programs, and facial
recognition software.

At Microsoft, employees
[https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/19/technology/tech-companies-immigration-border.html] are
calling on the company to cancel its $19.4 million contract with ICE
for processing data and artificial intelligence capabilities. In a
January blog post, Microsoft said it was offering cloud services to
ICE and was “proud
of the work. The company said the services could “help employees
make more informed decisions faster,” such as “enabling them to
process data on edge devices or utilize deep learning capabilities to
accelerate facial recognition and identification.”


Even though they don’t openly flirt with Neo-Nazis the way Breitbart
does, and are not bent on “eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith
from the globe” the way Blackwater
is, companies like Wells Fargo, AT&T and Microsoft are all complicit
in the culture of Islamophobia that has emboldened Trump, McConnell
and the Supreme Court to cement discrimination against Muslims into
law. Whether their attacks on Muslims are direct or indirect, and
whether their interests in doing so are ideological or economic, all
of these companies are partly responsible for the Muslim ban.

With legal and legislative avenues for challenging the Muslim ban
closed for now, we need to broaden the fight. While it is important to
hold our public officials accountable for their role in promoting the
Muslim ban, we cannot stop there. We also need to take on these
corporations directly and make them pay a price for enabling,
supporting and profiting from anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant policies.

Saqib Bhatti is the Co-Executive Director of the Action Center on Race
and the Economy. Molly Gott is a researcher with LittleSis.

	* [https://portside.org/node/17756/printable/print]







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