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GEO Group Contributions to Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar Scrutinized

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The Dream 30, a group of 36 activists who crossed the Texas-Mexico in Laredo border to protest the

Obama administration's "record" deportations and to prompt Congress to work toward immigration reform were recently reportedly denied support from Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar. The group called on Cuellar to write President Obama to accelarate the release of the remaining 27 activists who are still detained, according to NBC Latino's Julio Ricardo Verala ("Opinion: The DREAM 30, a Congressman and Private Prisons"). 

Cuellar, a Democrat who represents Laredo and supports immigration reform, as of yet has refused to support the activists, who are a part of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA). Cuellar stated that he does not condone what he thinks is the Dream 30's use of minors in taking a political stand on immigration.  

Cuellar's reaction to the Dream 30's requests prompted a video conference with NIYA, as well as a sit-in at Cuellar's office. Police officers reportedly escorted activists off the premises, and no arrests were made. 

These events resulted in NIYA and other affiliated groups to disclose that The GEO Group, one of the most prominent private prison companies in the world that makes a direct profit from immigrant detention in the United States, is one of Cuellar's campaign donors. As was reported on the Grassroots Leadership blog this summer, Cuellar was the third biggest recipient of GEO money in the House of Representatives last year.

In fact, Cuellar has received at least $30,000 from GEO since 2009, according to NBC Latino. It turns out that GEO also operates the Rio Grande Detention Center in Laredo, which, though built before Cuellar's tenure as Congressman, employs much of his district. According to Cuellar's office, 

"[The Rio Grande Detention Center] is a large employer in in Representative Cuellar's District and not unlike many other  large employers in Representative Cuellar's district, [GEO Group] donated to his campaign. However, the total contributions by GEO are miniscule within each campaign cycle in total."

La TUYA, a group of undocumented youth affiliated with NIYA, are keeping folks up-to-date on their Facebook page about developments with the campaign to garner Cuellar's support for the DREAM 30.