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As many as 60,000 detained immigrants may have engaged in forced labor for private prison companies

Class-action lawsuit claims ICE played a part in breaking anti-slavery laws


April M. Short
March 7, 2017 6:00PM (UTC)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNet

As many as 60,000 immigrants detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement could play a role in a class-action lawsuit accusing a private prison company of violating federal anti-slavery laws. The lawsuit alleges that detained immigrants awaiting court dates were forced to work for $1 per day or for free, on threat of solitary confinement.

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The suit was initially filed on behalf of nine immigrant plaintiffs in 2014 for $5 million in damages, but was recently moved to class action status. Now, attorneys expect damages to grow substantially, maybe involving tens of thousands of plaintiffs, as Kristine Phillips reports in a March 5 Washington Post piece detailing the lawsuit.

Phillips notes this is “the first time a class-action lawsuit accusing a private U.S. prison company of forced labor has been allowed to move forward.”

The lawsuit was initially filed against the Florida-based corporation GEO Group, which oversees a number of detention facilities that house immigrants who are awaiting court dates. In particular, GEO Group owns Denver Contract Detention Facility, which was the focus of the initial lawsuit.

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The lawsuit claims the detention company’s alleged practice of forcing select immigrant detainees to work for little to no pay is a violation of the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The act was reauthorized in 2003, 2005 and 2008 and seeks to prevent modern-day versions of slavery.

Read Phillips' entire Washington Post article.


April M. Short

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