Federal and State Trafficking Victims Protection Acts
As a result of the civil immigration detainee forced labor practices alleged below, for-profit detention facilities run by CoreCivic, Inc. and GEO Group, Inc. may have violated federal law prohibiting forced labor under 18 U.S.C. § 1589, and California law prohibiting human trafficking and forced labor under Civil Code § 52.5. Violations of these laws provide for actual damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, treble damages, injunctive relief, and mandatory restitution as well as the greater of treble damages or ten thousand ($10,000) pursuant to Cal. Civ. Code § 52.5(b)
The For-Profit Detention Industry
Throughout the country, undocumented individuals in the United States are typically brought to a detention facility and placed in proceedings in front of an immigration judge. These individuals may include asylum seekers, green card holders, and those awaiting immigration hearings (referred to herein as a “detainee” or civil immigration detainee”).
U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) officials use privately owned and operated for-profit facilities to detain immigrants. Nine (9) of the country’s ten (10) largest immigration detention facilities are operated by private companies like CoreCivic and GEO Group, and they hold about two-thirds of the civil immigration detainees in a system that currently keeps more than 31,000 people in custody on a typical day.
The for-profit civil immigration detention business is worth over $3 billion dollars a year. While some centers are located in border areas, others are far from the border because deportation officers arrest migrants living in the interior of the country as well.
In March of 2017 it was announced that the United States’ civil immigrant detention capacity would be increased by over four-hundred fifty per cent (450%). This signals the largest increase in immigrant detention since World War II and is, in essence, a “get into jail and work for free card” from which the for-profit detention industry derives nearly $2 billion dollars a year in revenue.
Allegations of Forced Labor and Unfair Business Practices
It is alleged that civil immigration detainees at several private, for-profit civil immigration detention facilities run by CoreCivic and GEO Group are engaged in forced labor work under threat of punishment at for-detention facilities run by these multi-billion dollar businesses. Specifically, it is alleged detainees, without limitation:
scrubbed bathrooms, showers, toilets, and windows;
cleaned and maintained on-site medical facilities;
cleaned the medical facility’s toilets, floors, and windows;
cleaned patient rooms and medical staff offices;
swept, mopped, stripped, and waxed the floors of the medical facility;
washed medical facility laundry;
swept, mopped, stripped, and waxed floors throughout the facility;
washed detainee laundry;
prepared and served detainee meals;
assisted in preparing catered meals for sponsored law enforcement events;
performed clerical work;
prepared clothing for newly arriving detainees;
provided barber services to detainees;
ran and managed the law library;
cleaned intake areas and solitary confinement unit;
cleaned and prepared vacant portions of the facility for newly arriving detainees;
cleaned the facility’s warehouse; and
maintained the exterior and landscaping of the buildings.
It is also alleged detainees who “volunteered” for such work were paid $1 per day, while detainees were only allowed to spend their $1 per day at the “company store” or commissary.
In addition to the Dollar-A-Day Work, detainees are alleged to have been coerced under threat of punishment to clean, maintain, scrub, sweep, and mop floors, bathrooms, showers, toilets, and windows for no pay at all, not only in their living areas (“pods”), but also throughout the other interior and exterior areas of the detention facilities under threat of punishment. Not only those who refused to work were threatened confinement and physical restraint, but also other detainees in the pods, all with the intent to obtain forced labor or services under threat of punishment for any refusal to work.
The total number of civil immigration detainees who were subjected to forced labor and human trafficking practices is currently unknown, but these illegal practices appear to be prevalent on a California-wide, and indeed a nationwide, scale. If these allegations are proven true, these multi-billion dollar businesses have been wrongly and unjustly enriched, and they should not be allowed to retain the revenues, proceeds, profits and other benefits derived from the forced labor of detainees.
If you or family member or friend have any information about the civil immigration forced labor practices described above, please contact us using the form on the right side of this page to help us put a stop to unjust forced labor in for-profit detention facilities