NEW YORK — A new report released today by the Center for Popular Democracy, Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change, and the Partnership for Working Families shows that major Wall Street companies stand to benefit financially from President Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The report, “Wall Street’s Border Wall”, unveils the companies invested in Sterling Construction, the largest U.S.-based company building a prototype of Donald Trump’s proposed border wall. The companies include far-right funder Robert Mercer’s firm, Renaissance Technologies, BlackRock, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. Sterling was selected through its subsidiary Texas Sterling.
“It’s always been clear that Trump’s border wall had no real benefit or justification – and now it’s clear that it could serve to further enrich his wealthy friends,” said Ana Maria Archila, Co-Executive Director of the Center for Popular Democracy. “Trump’s policies are causing enormous suffering in our communities and it’s time to hold everybody accountable for those policies – including both Trump and the companies that benefit off the backs of immigrants.”
These financial ties raise questions about whether there is a growing alignment between the financial elite and the white nationalist right, and whether such an alignment will strengthen right-wing forces. Several of these financial institutions are also invested in, and finance, private immigrant detention centers, demonstrating a willingness to benefit from anti-immigrant politics that tear apart families.
The findings come as Congress decides the fate of more than 800,000 immigrant youth with DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), who have been put in peril by Trump’s decision to end the program. Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have obstructed passage of the DREAM Act, and insisted on tying any potential legislative solution to the border wall and increased enforcement measures. Given that public polling shows overwhelming support for the DACA program - and widespread disapproval for a border wall - the report brings into question who the border wall is really designed to benefit.
"We want to use our shared resources to build infrastructure that supports all of us to live fully, not to build a wall that divides us,” said Nikki Fortunato Bas, Executive Director of the Partnership for Working Families. “Throughout our history, racism has been used to divide working people and enrich elites-- this wall is no different, except that it is more literal."
The report also highlights the hypocrisy of corporate leaders who claim to stand with immigrants. Notably, while Mercer has been linked to white nationalists via his support for Breitbart News, the leaders of several of the other major investors, including Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo’s Tim Sloan, have disavowed many parts of Trump’s agenda, including his Muslim Ban and termination of DACA.
In recent months, a growing chorus of advocates and elected officials, including New York City Public Advocate Tish James, have called on JPMorgan Chase and other “Corporate Backers of Hate” to distance themselves from Trump and divest from private prisons, whose share prices have skyrocketed in recent months as Trump has moved to ramp up immigrant detention. To date, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has not committed to concrete changes. Earlier this year, dozens of community organizations around the country called on companies not to bid on the border wall. Sixteen firms made statements that they would not bid, including eight of the 25 largest build-design firms in the country.
“It’s horrible that these companies are backing hate through their investments,” said Jonathan Cortés, a member of Make the Road New York who was forced to spend two-and-a-half months at a private immigration detention center in Arizona operated by CoreCivic (then Corrections Corporation of America). “It’s so sad to me that the same companies that are financing private immigration detention centers, like the one where I was held in Arizona in terrible conditions, are also putting their money towards Trump’s racist wall project. It seems to me that these companies and their CEOs just don’t have a heart—and that, instead of caring about our communities, they prefer to benefit from an anti-immigrant agenda.”
The full report can be read here.