Florida Atlantic University announced yesterday they’d signed a naming rights agreement worth some $6 million for the school’s new football stadium with Geo Group, the private firm that manages an immigration detention center in nearby Pompano Beach. While school President Mary Jane Saunder called the deal, “a true representation of The GEO Group’s incredible generosity to FAU and the community it serves,” not every member of that community was thrilled, as the Miami Herald’s Brenda Medina points out.
“The fact that they are locking up people of color and immigrants like my parents is shameful,” said 22-year-old Noor Fawzy, a political science student at FAU whose parents are Palestinian immigrant. “We don’t want our university to be associated with an entity that is being investigated for human rights abuses.”
Besides the United States, GEO Group also has private prisons in South Africa, the United Kingdom and Australia, where in 2003 it lost a contract after evidence was found that children detained in its facilities suffered cruel treatments, The New York Times reported in 2011. The company, which controls thousands of beds in private prisons and is worth almost $3 billion, is now in the middle of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit about mistreatment of prisoners.
BTC has recently been in the midst of controversies after activists and people detained in the place denounced irregularities. Some complained to the media that they weren’t getting the proper medical care while others argued that they have been detained for lengthy periods of time at BTC despite meeting the qualifications to be eligible for prosecutorial discretion offered by the Obama administration.