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Detainees granted class action status in forced labor lawsuit

Floridians who are taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents may be held at detention facilities, and some of these facilities are run by private companies that have contracts with the U.S. government. One such facility that is located in Colorado is the subject of a class action lawsuit that was filed by nine detainees.

According to news reports, the detainees allege that the Geo Group Inc., which owns the facility, had a policy in place at the detention center under which immigrants would be forced to work without pay. If they refused, they would be punished by being placed in solitary confinement.

The immigrants are arguing that the policy violates Colorado's unjust enrichment law as well as the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which forbids forced labor. A U.S. district court ruled that all of the detainees who have been detained by the Geo Group in the facility over the past decade should be represented as a class by the nine detainees who filed the lawsuit. The Geo Group appealed, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit upheld the lower court's ruling. The case will now be returned to the lower court for further proceedings as a class action.

Immigration detention facilities are notorious for the conditions in which detainees are held. People who have loved ones who are currently detained may want to consult with experienced immigration law attorneys about defending their loved ones against deportation and removal. The attorneys may be able to secure immigration bonds so that their loved ones can remain in the community until their hearings. They may also be able to prevail in their clients' cases so that they are not deported.

Source: NPR, "Appeals court broadens immigrant detainee case alleging forced labor", Richard Gonzales, Feb. 9, 2018

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