Human Rights Risks Related to US Immigration Policy
RESOLVED, that shareholders of Royal Bank of Canada (“RBC”) urge the Board of Directors to report to shareholders by December 31, 2020 on how RBC is identifying and addressing human rights risks to RBC related to carrying out the United States’ (U.S.) immigration enforcement policy, which aims to prosecute all persons who enter or attempt to enter the U.S., including the detention without parole of asylum-seekers and the separation of minor children from their parents who are accused of entering the country illegally.
The report should be prepared at reasonable cost and should omit confidential and proprietary information.
Immigration policy has become one of the most high-profile and contentious issues facing the U.S. The detention of undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers, especially the separation of minor children from their parents entering the U.S. outside of ports of entry, has spurred widespread criticism and captured the world’s attention.
Media attention has been intense, with coverage of the trauma endured by children, deplorable detention conditions and abuses within the system. Reports detail inhumane conditions in detention centers, with children sleeping on cement floors and suffering from hunger, inadequate health care, and a lack of toothbrushes and soap. Thousands have alleged sexual and physical abuse, and there have been numerous deaths inside these facilities.
Concerns have been raised regarding the practices of GEO Group and CoreCivic, two firms that operate the majority of migrant detention facilities. Numerous reports and lawsuits have detailed violations at facilities operated by both companies. This includes at least three lawsuits alleging forced labor/human trafficking at immigrant detention centers in California, Colorado, and Washington. According to their June 30, 2019 regulatory filings, RBC and affiliates own over 20,000 shares in each firm.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said that, “the use of immigration detention and family separation as a deterrent runs counter to human rights standards and principles.” RBC’s Code of Conduct says, “Over many years RBC has earned trust and a reputation for doing what’s right through the actions of those who work here. . . . We support the communities where we live, work and do business. We also accept accountability for the social and economic effects of our business decisions.”
Banks have started to recognize the reputational consequences of doing business with companies whose conduct is widely condemned in society. In 2019, Bank of America announced it would stop financing private prison and immigration detention companies, following similar declarations by JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. As of September 30, 2019, all existing U.S. banking partners providing lines of credit and term loans to GEO Group had officially committed to ending ties with the private prison and detention industry.1 The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board divested its shares from both companies in 2019 following public opposition.
Given the risks the policy and debate create for companies like RBC, we urge shareholders to vote for this Proposal.