These Republican Legislators Support Forced Labor for Detained Immigrants

It’s no secret that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been working overtime this past year to enforce a crackdown on undocumented immigrants — per President Trump’s directive.

With an increased number of arrests, comes a greater need for confinement facilities. And major private prison contractors, like GEO Group and CoreCivic, have benefited greatly from the rising demand for their services. For a number of years, ICE has relied heavily on contractors and private prisons for detaining immigrants — and the present situation is no different.

As more individuals are forced into this system, it’s becoming harder to hide the unjust realities of private prison operations. Among various civil rights lawsuits being leveled against these contractors is one that accuses private prisons of exploiting their undocumented immigrant inmates for extremely cheap labor – in other words, slavery.

More specifically, the lawsuit argues that these prisons have violated the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, because many inmates are working for less than $1 per hour.

If this lawsuit gets its day in court, it could mark another major blow against private prison contractors. With impending litigation, these companies are beginning to fret about their future profit margins — but they have no plans to allow such a suit to proceed.

In an effort to kill this lawsuit, 18 Republican members of Congress sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta and Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan. In the document, they beseech the three men to use their office to dismiss the case. In fact, they explain, these prison contractors aren’t violating labor laws — and forced labor is actually beneficial to inmates.

The letter explains that these working inmates are not actually employees of their prisons — that would be illegal, after all, since they are undocumented. No, the members of Congress argue that the labor inmates are performing is merely part of their detention — like showering or being fed.

Following this logic, the letter goes on to explain that forced labor is actually good for the inmates, as it keeps them busy and out of trouble. These GOP legislators maintain that the best and most ethical way to keep prison inmates manageable is to press them into labor for pennies per hour.

This rationale is strikingly similar to the sentiments expressed during the era of colonialism, imperialism and chattel slavery, when white Europeans believed that they were actually doing Africans and other groups a favor by forcing them into labor.

Signatories on the letter include Reps. Mike Rogers, Steve King, Dana Rohhrabacher, Louie Gohmert and Barry Loudermilk. And it should come as little surprise to learn that both GEO Group and CoreCivic have given thousands in campaign donations to most, if not all, legislators included in the letter.

How would Americans react if thousands of U.S. citizens were being arrested and pressed into forced labor in another country? Both the left and the right would be screaming bloody murder, without doubt.

It’s important to keep in mind that not everyone held at an ICE prison has been convicted; many are actually being detained until their legal situation is resolved by the court. And that makes it quite probable that at least some of the immigrants being forced to labor are innocent.

Take Action!

It’s critical that the Novoa v. GEO Group lawsuit, which seeks retroactive compensation for detained immigrants who were forced to work,  be allowed to go to court. And if it does, it could have a major financial impact on the private prison industry in the United States.

Tell Attorney General Sessions, Secretary Acosta and Acting Director Homan to remain uninvolved and leave this matter to the justice system by adding your name to this Care2 petition, as well as sharing it with friends and family on social media!

Concerned about an issue? Want to raise awareness about an injustice? Join your fellow Care2 users by learning how to make your own petition and make your voice heard today!

 

Photo Credit: Molly Adams/Flickr

54 comments

Marie W
Marie W5 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Margaret G
Margaret G11 months ago

Brian F. seems to assume that everyone who enters the United States from countries south of the United States do so for economic reasons. Often people come here from Central America because they justifiably fear for their lives. Furthermore, as Brian F. surely knows, the dangerous situations that they are fleeing have been caused, at least in part, by United States actions. Should the United States deny them asylum?

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Margaret G
Margaret G11 months ago

Trump supporter Deborah W. writes that those who break the law should pay the consequences. How about those who have not been convicted for breaking the law? Some of these people being coerced into forced labor have not been convicted.

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Lesa D
Past Member 11 months ago

#137 petition signed...

thank you Llowell...

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John B
John B11 months ago

Thanks for sharing the info.

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RONALD W
RONALD Walker11 months ago

Please remember about private Prisons. They have just one customer. Government! So the more people in jail the more money private prisons make. Making inmates work for free. This goes back to 1900 's when a southern county sheriffs would go out looking for black Americans walking alone and arrest them for trespassing and place them on work furlough for 3 to 5 years. It was slavery all over again! Many were worked to death. As were slaves!

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Peggy B
Peggy B11 months ago

I'm not surprised.

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Peggy B
Peggy B11 months ago

Petition signed.

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Winn A
Winn A11 months ago

tRUMP belongs in Jail NOW.

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Winn A
Winn A11 months ago

Disgusting and Despicable

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