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Thousands of ICE detainees claim they were forced into labor, a violation of anti-slavery laws

Thousands of immigrants detained at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities have joined a class-action lawsuit over being forced to work for $1 a day or less, reports the Washington Post.

The lawsuit, originally filed in 2014 is against the GEO Group, a Florida-based private prison company that operates many for-profit detention centers for immigrants.. The case originally started with nine plaintiffs, who claim that detainees are forced to work without pay — and if they don't they are threatened with solitary confinement. The case has now been upgraded to a class-action lawsuit, which could potentially involve thousands of immigrants who were forced to work in GEO facilities. This is the first time that a class-action lawsuit has been brought against a private prison company, and could have major ramifications depending on the outcome.

The GEO Group operates over 20 facilities in the state of Texas.  For-profit prison companies are focused on keeping costs down and using detainee labor is one way to do that. Detainees work in the kitchens, keep the facility clean, and help maintain the facility.  

Immigrants are held in federal detention while they wait to see an immigration judge.

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