For fifty cents or less an hour, detainees at for profit immigration detention centers around the country cook meals, clean facilities and do laundry. Attorneys say the labor is forced and illegal, that those in detention are forced to pay for basic items such as toothpaste or to make phone calls to loved ones.
The practice has brought lawsuits to the country’s two biggest private prison companies, CoreCivic and Geo Group. The lawsuit filed recently brought wage theft claims against CoreCivic’s Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico.
Many lawsuits in recent years over $1 per day pay have accused private prison companies of violating laws that prohibit forced labor. Detainees at an Aurora, Colorado facility sued Geo Group for wage theft in 2014, this case is still in courts. In 2017, Washington state also sued Geo Group for paying detainees $1 per day.
A lawsuit was filed in April against CoreCivic for “forced labor” at its facility in Georgia. The plaintiff says he had to work for about fifty cents an hour to pay for phone calls to his family.
Both CoreCivic and Geo Group contributed to Trump’s presidential campaign. Immediately after the election, Geo Group’s stock price rose 21% and CoreCivic’s increased 43%.