Since reports of migrant children being separated from adults at the border sparked outrage this year, Rep. Marsha Blackburn dug in, defending President Donald Trump’s heated rhetoric about a caravan of Central Americans and has taken thousands of dollars from a company accused of negligence in the death of a migrant toddler who had been held in a detention facility.
Blackburn — a Tennessee Republican running against former Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat — has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds from a Nashville-based private prison company whose immigration-detention facility in Texas came under scrutiny this summer after an 18-month-old girl died shortly after being released.
The girl, Mariee Juarez, died from a respiratory infection she had contracted in an immigration detention facility run by CoreCivic, according to a claim filed by her mother.
Yasmin Juarez alleged that staff at the CoreCivic detention center in Dilley, Texas, were negligent in treating the respiratory infection that ultimately ended her child’s life, ABC News reported in August.
The Nashville-based CoreCivic has contributed $27,700 to Blackburn’s Senate campaign — by far the most of any candidate this cycle — and $43,200 total to Blackburn dating back to 2002, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
CoreCivic managing director John Beasley contributed $500 to Blackburn’s campaign on Sept. 14, coming on top of the $1,000 he had already donated, according to Federal Election Commission records.
On Aug. 1, the company’s CEO, Damon Hininger, contributed the maximum allowed — $2,700 — after he had already given the maximum toward her primary campaign.
In her House career, Blackburn has supported policies that benefited for-profit prison companies like CoreCivic, including her vote against ending the Trump administration’s child separation policy and to allow the Department of Homeland Security to use private immigration detention facilities.
A spokesman for CoreCivic said the company did not provide medical health services or staffing and placed responsibility “solely” on Immigration and Customs Enforcement. According to the Dallas Morning News, the company’s Dilley facility had a history of “gross inadequacies in the standard of care provided.”
In the first two years of the Trump administration, CoreCivic received $225 million in funding from ICE to manage immigration detention facilities.