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Emails show GEO Group employee threatening ICE detainees who didn't clean their jails

Author: Jerry Iannelli, Miami New Times, Published on: 7 November 2019

Immigration detainees are held on civil, not criminal, charges. Therefore, imprisoned immigrants have argued for years they cannot legally be forced to work like prisoners while held in civil detention. In December 2017, Raul Novoa — a Mexican man living in Los Angeles on a green card — sued the GEO Group... He alleges that detainees were forced to work for the company for as little as $1 per day and that the absurdly small wages were illegal for detainees who hadn't been convicted of crimes... [F]ive other immigrant detainees have submitted statements to the court saying that to afford necessities such as toothpaste, they were forced to work for GEO's borderline slave wages. Other exhibits have included internal GEO emails from jail staffers complaining that immigrants were not scrubbing the detention facilities well enough... GEO has responded to Novoa's allegations in court... [GEO] claimed that, because U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement technically pays the detainees, GEO does not "employ" the immigrants and therefore is not subject to California's minimum-wage law. GEO also claims its "work program," which pays $1 daily, is entirely voluntary.

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