Immigrant Detainees Paid $1 a Day to Clean Private Prison File Lawsuit

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In the U.S., the average workplace is home to roughly 500 different kinds of bacteria, even prisons such as the detainment facility in Denver, CO. At this workplace, however, germs are the least of everyone’s concerns.

At the private prison facility located just outside of Denver, immigrants who were detained there while awaiting deportation proceedings are now suing the private company who held them. The immigrants allege they were paid a mere $1 a day to perform cleaning and janitorial services, often times under the threat of being placed in solitary confinement.

The immigrant detainees were ordered to scrub toilets, mop and sweep floors, do laundry, and prepare and serve meals, among several other duties, according to the attorneys who filed the lawsuit last October on behalf of the group of nine current and former detainees.

On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge John L. Kane shot down a request from the Florida-based GEO Group Inc. to dismiss the claims brought forth against it, allowing the federal lawsuit to move forward.

Geo Group, Inc. serves as one of the largest contractors hired by the federal government to detain immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally, or legal permanent residents who have criminal records and are facing deportation. In court documents, the company has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, instead claiming all work performed is strictly voluntary and abides by the federal guidelines in compensating detainees $1 per day.

Attorneys representing the immigrants say they’re moving forward with seeking a class-action status. The judge’s ruling paves the way to collect more information from GEO Group, Inc. via discovery proceedings regarding how many detainees were made to work, according to the attorneys.

In addition, the attorneys said they’ve heard similar stories in the past from clients claiming that immigrant labor for nearly nothing runs rampant at private detention facilities; however, they said this lawsuit is the first of its kind in Colorado.

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