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The American Gestapo and Its Slave Labor Force

[ 15 ] March 6, 2017 |

icearrest_590

Oh, just violating the 13th Amendment.

Tens of thousands of immigrants detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement were forced to work for $1 day, or for nothing at all — a violation of federal anti-slavery laws — a lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit, filed in 2014 against one of the largest private prison companies in the country, reached class-action status this week after a federal judge’s ruling. That means the case could involve as many as 60,000 immigrants who have been detained.

It’s the first time a class-action lawsuit accusing a private U.S. prison company of forced labor has been allowed to move forward.

“That’s obviously a big deal; it’s recognizing the possibility that a government contractor could be engaging in forced labor,” said Nina DiSalvo, executive director of Towards Justice, a Colorado-based nonprofit group that represents low-wage workers, including undocumented immigrants. “Certification of the class is perhaps the only mechanism by which these vulnerable individuals who were dispersed across the country and across the world would ever be able to vindicate their rights.”

At the heart of the dispute is the Denver Contract Detention Facility, a 1,500-bed center in Aurora, Colo., owned and operated by GEO Group under a contract with ICE. The Florida-based corporation runs facilities to house immigrants who are awaiting their turn in court.

The lawsuit, filed against GEO Group on behalf of nine immigrants, initially sought more than $5 million in damages. Attorneys expect the damages to grow substantially given the case’s new class-action status.

Combine a fascist and racist police force with private prisons and a national indifference to anyone caught up in the nation’s injustice system and–VOILA!–you have the perfect conditions for people of color to have to engage in slave labor. I’m sure Steve Bannon and Attorney General Nathan Bedford Forrest are pleased.

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Comments (15)

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  1. Ramon A. Clef says:

    At least the product of that labor could safely and honestly carry the "Made in America" label!

    ETA: Holy shit, I just realized that if you don’t know my icon is Dr. Zoidberg, it looks really racist.

  2. Shakezula says:

    Maybe this will spike the admin’s plan to make private prisons into labor farms. I assume that’s how they were going to handle the fact that mass deportation would have impacted businesses that rely on undocumented immigrants because they’re easier to exploit.

    • sam says:

      “normal” prison labor for pennies (or even nothing) is perfectly legal, thanks to that little provision in the 13th amendment that still allows slavery/involuntary servitude “as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted”

      The issue here specifically is that these folks haven’t been convicted of any crime. So this nice little loophole in the 13th amendment doesn’t attach to them.

      And I’m sure everyone here has seen it, but if you haven’t, watch Ava Duvernay’s “13th” post-haste.

      • sam says:

        (also, if i had a nickel for every time I had to explain to a non-lawyer that “legal” and “moral” were not the same thing.

        …or “logical”, but that’s a whole other ball of wax)

    • Somebody still needs to pick the fruits and vegetables.

  3. C.V. Danes says:

    Is this surprising? How else is Trump going to pay for his wall?

  4. rewenzo says:

    “Finally, the shackles are off,” cheered devoted civil servant Chuck Manworth, who could totally have joined a real law enforcement agency if he wanted to. “At long last, the field agent/immigration experts at ICE are empowered to use their discretion. No longer are we forced to focus on violent or otherwise serious criminals,” thought the man, as he stroked his Beretta M9. “Now we can finally devote our full resources to chasing after kids with unpaid parking tickets, and single mothers testifying against their abusers in court.” His eyes welled up with patriotic tears at the trust shown his fellow agents by the President, who was definitely not insane. “Oh yeah, also slavery!”

  5. efgoldman says:

    Since private contractor prisons are right up there with elected judges, the Electoral College, and hiring mercenaries to fight our wars as hideous ideas in US history, maybe the suit will put this particular asshole company out of business.

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