ICE's Captive Immigrant Labor Force

By Michelle Chen

The Nation

While the White House rounds up and imprisons migrants, claiming deceptively that they “take jobs” from Americans, human-rights advocates say that ICE’s private-prison contractors are running a scheme that employs the same “aliens” as a captive workforce in federal detention centers.

How did immigrant jailers become immigrant bosses? Private-prison companies claim to be benevolently keeping detainees busy with “voluntary” service, but detainees and rights advocates see this supposed volunteering as a byproduct of coercion.

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Slave Labor Widespread at ICE Detention Centers, Lawyers Say

By Mia Steinle

Project on Government Oversight 

There are nearly 200 federal detention centers across the country. Here, people suspected of violating U.S. immigration laws wait for court hearings to find out if they’ll stay in the United States or be deported. While they wait, many detainees work as part of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “voluntary work program.” They clean, they cook, they do laundry, and they garden—some advocates say they keep the facilities running.

For their labor, the detainees are supposed to be paid at least $1 per day, or just under $0.13 per hour for an 8-hour work day. This arrangement has the blessings of both ICE and Congress, the latter of which set the rate over a half a century ago and hasn’t changed it since.

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Why Aren't Paychecks Growing? A Burger-Joint Clause Offers a Clue

Towards Justice's work representing workers in the fast-food industry is drawing national attention to anti-competitive practices that undermine wages and working conditions. 


New York Times Article, by Rachel Abrams 

Pushing Back Against Force Arbitration

By KGNU News


When the credit reporting agency Equifax revealed recently that the personal information of 143 million Americans had been exposed due to its failure to adequately protect data like Social Security numbers, credit card accounts and birth dates, people were horrified. That reaction was compounded when the company offered one year of “free” credit monitoring to consumers — but only if they waived their right to sue Equifax in class-action suits, and instead agreed to arbitration. It’s a process that’s known as forced arbitration. Wells Fargo is another financial institution that has been criticized for its use of the practice.

David Seligman, attorney with the consumer group Towards Justice will be one of the panelists, told KGNU’s Robin Ryan about how prevalent the language has become in the agreements we make with businesses that range from cell phone companies to credit card vendors. He said that even though it impacts our everyday lives, it’s just under the surface nature keeps us from seeing how much damage such practices have the potential to do.

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California Helps Workers Sue Their Bosses. New York Has Noticed

By Josh Eidelson

Bloomberg News


Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether employees have the right to bring class actions against their bosses. With the court’s Republican majority restored this year by President Donald Trump, labor advocates aren’t holding their breath.

Instead, they’re pursuing a work-around pioneered on the West Coast. A decade-old California law allows people to act as “private attorneys general,” bringing cases against companies on behalf of the government. Activists are urging other states and cities to follow suit.

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Private Immigration Detention Center Must Follow State Laws

By Seattle Times editorial board

The Seattle Times


SOME would call working for chips and candy or $1 a day cruel and unusual punishment. But Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has another description for the way immigrants are paid at the for-profit detention center in Tacoma: against the law.

Ferguson has filed a lawsuit demanding the multibillion-dollar corporation that runs the Northwest Detention Center pay its detainee workers nothing less than the state minimum wage, which is currently $11 an hour. He bases the lawsuit on the very agreement the federal government has with The GEO Group to operate the only privately run detention center in Washington state. It says GEO must comply with state and local laws and codes.


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No Class Action: Supreme Court Weighs Whether Workers Must Face Arbitrations Alone

By Yuki Noguchi



Suing one's employer can be scary enough, but it's even scarier doing it alone.

Many employers are increasingly requiring workers to sign agreements requiring them to resolve workplace disputes about anything from harassment to discrimination to wage theft through individual arbitration. In other words, the language does not permit them to join forces with colleagues who might have similar complaints.


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Access To Justice In The Face of Fear: The Importance Of Class Actions

Read this Blog post by Towards Justice Attorney David Seligman called, "Access to Justice in the Face of Fear: The Importance of Class Actions"

When many of us think of “class actions,” we think of the class action notices we receive in the mail and frequently ignore. But the right to participate in class or collective litigation is a critical tool of social and economic justice, and essential to workers (and immigrant workers in particular) seeking to protect themselves against wage theft. Click Here To Read More

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Towards Justice Spotlight

Listen here to an interview with our Executive Director Nina DiSalvo on Towards Justice and our Access to Justice program!

Dot Org: Towards Justice

Executive Director Nina DiSalvo speaks with KGNU Community Radio