If you watch TV, you’ve probably seen Roy Blunt’s recent border-security ad about ten zillion times an evening. A folksy, jeans-clad, plaid-shirted Blunt strolls along a segment of the border wall with a jolly looking gentleman whom one assumes is a border agent, and declares with a strange, semi-ecstatic smirk that, among other things, he supports Arizona’s new anti-immigrant law. Indeed, Blunt has been forthright about his support of the Arizona law since its inception, declaring it to be “just common sense.”
Of course nobody with half a brain would have expected Blunt to say anything different, but, until today, I just assumed that he was simply pandering to the nativist fears of his GOP base. However, a new report by NPR suggests his motivation for supporting Arizona’s SB1070 might not be so clear-cut. Given the implications of NPR’s findings, Blunt may actually have an eye to cultivating new sources of financial support as well as playing to the anti-immigrant paranoia of the GOP base:
NPR spent the past several months analyzing hundreds of pages of campaign finance reports, lobbying documents and corporate records. What they show is a quiet, behind the-scenes effort to help draft and pass Arizona Senate Bill 1070 by an industry that stands to benefit from it: the private prison industry.
The law could send hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to prison in a way never done before. And it could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to private prison companies responsible for housing them.
Sounds like a natural fit for Blunt. I’m betting he’d like to get Missouri in on the goodies – a new, privately run prison for undocumented women and children maybe (and big future campaign donations for Blunt) in return for an ugly, probably unconstitutional law intended to make rich people richer. From Blunt’s point of view, it has to be a win-win position; play to the prejudices of the slaveringly anti-immigration GOP right-wing, while supporting laws at state or federal level that are almost guaranteed not to address immigration problems. After all, why kill a cash cow?
* 2nd paragraph edited slightly for clairty.