Detention center operators’ businesses are exploding with Trump Administration immigration policies. They are holding more and more immigrants every month. They will continue to grow, as the government is trying to arrest every undocumented immigrant already in the U.S. or trying to cross the U.S. border. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement office spends more than $2 billion dollars a year for private contractors to jail immigrants waiting for their hearings.

There is reason to believe those same detention centers are padding their profits by using detainees as virtually free labor. Detainees mop, sweep, wax floors, scrub toilets, do laundry, clean medical facilities, and prepare meals. For this they earn $1 per day. Their “voluntary” work entitles them to sufficient food and basic services.

Six US senators sent a letter to Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, regarding their concerns that the private prison companies are “withholding adequate food, hygienic supplies, and contact with loved ones from immigrant detainees. When detainees are unable to receive outside funds to purchase supplies, they feel coerced into volunteering to participate in work programs.”

There are multiple lawsuits against immigrant detention center operators. A suit against The GEO Group about its facility in Aurora, Colorado alleges that when detainees refuse to do cleaning assignments for free GEO imposed disciplinary sanctions, including solitary confinement for up to 72 hours, loss of commissary, loss of job, restriction to the housing unit or a reprimand or warning. alleging forced labor.

A lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Columbus, Georgia the accuses CoreCivic of threatening to put detainees in solitary confinement and deprive them of food, toiletries and contact with loved ones, if they don’t work inside the Stewart Detention Center.

Other detention center companies are facing multiple lawsuits for how they operate their facilities. Charges include physical and sexual abuse, deprivation of basic necessities, civil rights violations and labor laws.

Contracts with detention centers are worth about $32,000 per year per detainee. It seems reasonable for the Department of Homeland Security to ask how it is spent. Unless, or until that happens, private lawsuits look like the only thing standing between accountability and an immigration detention center running amok.

If you or a loved one is inside an immigration detention center, please seek legal help! Feel free to contact our experienced immigration lawyers at 510-488-1020 to fight for your rights to stay in the United States!