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.
Two ex-guards at a private immigrant detention facility were indicted today in San Antonio, reports KVIA ABC-7.
A federal grand jury indicted Barbara Jean Goodwin, accusing her of having sex with a detainee between February and August of 2016. If found guilty, she faces up to 15 years in prison. The grand jury also accused Ray Alexander Barr of providing methamphetamine and alcohol to prisoners on December 27. If found guilty, he could get up to 20 years in prison.
Both Goodwin and Barr were guards at the Central Texas Detention Facility, located in San Antonio. The facility is run by the GEO Group, which is a private company that operates immigrant detention facilities for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Anews release by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) states a Brazilian national died on November 25 in a San Antonio hospital while in their custody.
Wenceslau Esmerio Campos had been detained at the South Texas Detention Center in Pearsall, Texas, which is operated by the for-profit company GEO Group. On November 23 he had chest pains and ICE Health Corp officials took him to the Frio County hospital. A short time later Campos was taken to Methodist Hospital in San Antonio due to his life-threatening condition. Though attempts were made to stabilize him, Campos passed away on November 25. He was 49 years old.
The report shows that six banks have played a role in financing private prisons. Those six banks are Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, BNP Paribas, and U.S. Bancorp. The following are key findings from the report:
At the end of June 2016, CCA had total debts of $1.5 billion and GEO Group had total debts of $1.9 billion.
CCA and GEO Group have relied on debt financing from banks to expand their control of the criminal justice and immigration enforcement systems by acquiring smaller companies that provide “community corrections” services, like residential reentry and electronic monitoring.
Stocks in CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) rose by as much as 60 percent before leveling off at a 34 percent increase. GEO Group saw an increase of 18 percent in their stock at the time same time. These two companies are seen to benefit from Trump's presidency, as he has vowed to increase the number of deportations, which will lead to the need for more immigrant detention centers. These are often run by private companies such as CoreCivic and GEO Group.
The announcement and following increase of stocks helped turn around some of the losses both companies had experienced following the announcement from the Department of Justice (DOJ) that they would begin to phase out the use of private prisons. The president-elect is most likely to reverse the policy of the DOJ to no longer use private prisons.
GEO is looking forward to an estimated $75-80 million extra in annual revenue. On LCS's end, the deal will bail them out of nearly $302 million in debt. The deal will reportedly be finalized by the end of this February.
er 1st, the Monday after Thanksgiving, the Karnes County Commissioners Court convened for a rapidly summoned special session on the expansion of the GEO-run family detention center, now called the "Karnes County Residential Center." Though the privately operated prison company has already made record profits in the few months since it was granted a contract to detain immigrant families, they are now asking to more than double the facility's capacity from 600 beds to 1300.
Immigrant advocates and attorneys testified about the humanitarian costs of child detention and the sexual assault allegations filed by women in the detention center that are still being invistigated. Other community members were concerned that GEO is attempting to bully Karnes County into approving the expansion, despite forcing the county to shoulder the burden of investigating sexual assault cases and transporting victims. Some also expressed that many jobs were given to people outside the community and the income the county receives from the prison didn't justify the costs. GEO officials claimed that the county is contractually obligated to approve the expansion.
A woman who was incarcerated in a GEO Group operated facility in Eagle Pass is suing the company for undisclosed damages for not responding to her allegations of repeated rape by a guard. The woman, who was awaiting trial, was assigned to work in the kitchen where 27-year-old guard Luis Armando Valladarez raped her several times in a storage closet.
The newest film by Austin-based filmmaker Matthew Gossage about family detention, "No Sanctuary: Big Business and Family Detention" premiered to an audience of over 80 people in Austin, TX last Friday.
The film, a short documentary running about 30 minutes, gives a brief history of family detention and the coalition that brought it to an end at the T. Don Hutto family detention center. It also follows a mother, Sara, who together with her 7-year-old daughter was detained in the newly opened Karnes Family Detention Center. Sara and her daughter, Nayely, won freedom from Karnes after their lawyer took their story to Grassroots Leadership and the media. Nayely has brain cancer and was not receiving medical inside the Karnes County family detention center, which is operated by the GEO Group.
The film is available for advocacy and organizing groups around the country who want to learn more about family detention and what they can do to bring this practice to an end, once and for all.
The GEO Group's stock prices hit a new 52-week high this week, reaching $38.69 a share. At a stockholder meeting in August, the company promised increased revenue — a projection of $26 million this year — resulting from the return of family detention to the Karnes County Civil Detention Center in Texas that same month.
Karnes County Detention Center
The Corrections Corporation of America is also profitting from the return of family detention, with the construction on the newest and largest immigrant detention center in the country—the South Texas Family Residential Center—beginning last month in Dilley, TX. CCA reportedly will make $298 dollars per person per day in Dilley.