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A Group Of Immigrant Detainees Have Filed A Lawsuit Alleging They Were Victims Of Forced Labor

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Former detainees of the Aurora ICE Processing Center in Aurora, Colo. are suing private prison firm GEO Group, alleging they were victims of forced labor. A federal judge in Colorado on Feb. 27 upgraded the lawsuit, which was filed in 2014 by nine former detainees, to a class-action suit increasing the number of plaintiffs from nine to more than 60,000. The lawsuit alleges that immigrants detained at the GEO Group’s private detention center were victims of forced labor in violation with anti-slavery laws. According to The Washington Post, detainees were forced to work for as much as $1 a day. Any who refused the demand were threatened with solitary confinement. The Florida-based private prison company currently holds a contract with ICE.

“That’s obviously a big deal; it’s recognizing the possibility that a government contractor could be engaging in forced labor,” Nina DiSalvo, the executive director of Towards Justice, a Colorado-based nonprofit group told The Washington Post. “Certification of the class is perhaps the only mechanism by which these vulnerable individuals who were dispersed across the country and across the world would ever be able to vindicate their rights.”

Denver7 KMGH-TV reports that the lawsuit started with just nine former detainees of the 1,500-bed facility in Colorado. After the ruling by U.S. District Judge John Kane that the lawsuit is a class-action matter, anyone who was detained by ICE between 2004 and now are automatically added to the lawsuit. This is the first-ever class-action lawsuit to be filed against a for-profit prison firm.

The original lawsuit was seeking $5 million for the nine plaintiffs, but the class-action status added to the lawsuit will increase the amount of money awarded to the victims. The facility in question is reported to have functioned on the work of the detained immigrants since they had only one janitor on staff. GEO Group denies the allegations.

“We have consistently, strongly refuted these allegations, and we intend to continue to vigorously defend our company against these claims,” GEO Group Vice President for Corporate Relations Pablo Paez, told Denver7 in a statement. He added: “The volunteer work program at immigration facilities as well as the wage rates and standards associated with the program are set by the Federal government. Our facilities, including the Aurora, Colo. Facility, are highly rated and provide high-quality services in safe, secure, and humane residential environments pursuant to the Federal Government’s national standards.”

Watch the full news report by Denver7 below.


READ: A Judge Ordered The Release Of Images From An Arizona Immigration Detention Center

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While Trump Postponed ICE Raids, He Keeps Using The Community As A Political Pawn Because He Can’t Legislate

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While Trump Postponed ICE Raids, He Keeps Using The Community As A Political Pawn Because He Can’t Legislate

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News broke over the weekend that President Trump would be delaying planned immigration raids throughout the country. He tweeted that the deportation operations would be postponed by two weeks to see if Congress can make changes to asylum laws and work out legislative groundwork with Democrats.

As news of the roundups became public knowledge on Friday, faith and immigration groups prepared and informed communities of their rights and procedures in case of an interaction with ICE officials. But the sudden abrupt reversal did little to relieve or reassure immigrants and their supporters.

Migrant communities across the country are becoming familiar with this feeling.

President Trump’s reversal came as immigrant advocates prepared undocumented immigrants for a highly publicized operation. ICE officials were expected to target more than 2,000 families with pending deportations orders. But even with a delay, fears are mounting for many who don’t know what to expect next for themselves and their families.

Marjorie Murillo, a community liaison specialist for Miami Dade Public Schools, says that President Trump’s delayed immigration raids do nothing but toy with immigrant communities livelihoods.

“We don’t trust him in any way,” Murillo told NBC News. “I’ve been calling and sending messages everywhere that they are postponed, but where I live, parents and everyone, they are never safe.”

This isn’t the first time President Trump has used immigration fear tactics to push for legislation.

Back in 2017, President Trump attempted to terminate the Obama-era program that protected so-called Dreamers, young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. It was a failed attempt to pressure Congress in passing an immigration bill that included new restrictions on legal immigration. Earlier this year, a 35-day government shutdown ended without Democrats agreeing to the president’s terms, funding for a border wall.

There has been pushback from politicians and immigration advocates that are calling the raids unjust.

According to CNN, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called President Trump Friday night and asked him to call off the raids. It was the next day that the President would announce the delay. Pelosi approved of President Trump’s announced delay and said it would give Congress enough time to work on immigration reform.

“Mr. President, delay is welcome. Time is needed for comprehensive immigration reform. Families belong together,” Pelosi tweeted.

Some are calling the move a tactic to help benefit Trump’s effort to secure funding for immigration enforcement. Republicans and Democrats in Congress are currently in the midst of negotiating legislation to allocate funds to different agencies, that includes ICE. The agency is dealing with record large-scale migration of Central American families and unaccompanied children to the U.S.-Mexico border, currently at a 13-year high.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been one of the strongest advocates against ICE deportations. The organization says President Trump’s immigration policies have installed fears in communities across the country.

“Our communities shouldn’t have to live in fear that parents won’t come home from work, or kids won’t return from school, or a knock at the door could rip a family apart,” the ACLU said in a tweet. “This isn’t Donald Trump’s America, it’s ours. We can resist his deportation agenda — together.”

Many on social media are using their platform to share tips and advice in case an individual finds themselves interacting with ICE.

CREDIT:@diana-bbcita/Twitter

Within hours that news broke that immigration raids would be happening, people took to social media to share helpful tips. From informing people to stay in their homes and to not answer their doors, by the time President Trump announced the delay on Saturday, people were ready.

Images across social media showed ICE checkpoints and areas of interest where deportation officials might show up. But even as more time is given to prepare for the worst-case scenarios, many aren’t taking any risks.

“He’s making an announcement as if these deportations are not already happening,” Murillo said. “He’s saying if Democrats don’t do what I want them to do, deportations will start in two weeks. Deportations have been happening since he went into office. It’s coming, maybe it will turn a little bit, stay on guard. We can’t ever let our guard down.”

READ: ICE Raids Ordered To Begin On Sunday In Major Cities

ICE Raids Ordered To Begin On Sunday In Major Cities

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ICE Raids Ordered To Begin On Sunday In Major Cities

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is reportedly planning a raid in the early morning hours on Sunday in 10 cities.

It is being reported that the raids will target more than 2,000 families in cities with large migrant populations including Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and Houston, according to officials who remain anonymous.

Trump tweeted on Monday that ICE would begin deporting millions of undocumented immigrants throughout the U.S.

More than “1 million” undocumented immigrants “have been issued final deportation orders by federal judges yet remain at large in the country” and called enforcing those judicial orders a “top priority” for ICE, a senior administration official told CNN.

They are allegedly planning to use hotel rooms to house everyone until the family can be deported together and say they might even arrest individuals that can’t be deported immediately. They will most likely be released with ankle monitors, in cases such as parents whose children are U.S. citizens.

Miami is reportedly one of the first cities that’ll be raided, according to the Miami Herald, and the other cities are Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, New York City, and San Francisco.

Those who will allegedly be targeted include minors who came into the U.S. without their parents and have since turned 18; people who were ordered removed in absentia; and people who missed a court hearing and failed to respond to letters from the Department of Justice (DOJ). Additionally, families on the “rocket docket,” a set of deportation cases fast-tracked for by the DOJ.

There are around 52,000 single adults in ICE custody overall, mostly those who came from the border, according to CNN.

Many are saying Trump’s push for deportations, including essentially outing the raid, are part of his reelection bid due to his poor record.

The inhumane treatment of immigrants in detention centers has been well documented, with a spread of illness leading to many unnecessary deaths, including those of children.

Recently the American Civil Liberties Union  ACLU shared on Instagram what people can do if ICE comes knocking on their door.

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What to do if ICE agents are at your door. #KnowYourRights

A post shared by ACLU (@aclu_nationwide) on

They advise not to open the door unless they have a warrant signed by a judge since ICE administrative warrant does not give them permission to enter a home.

The ACLU website also has an entire section dedicated to immigrants’ rights with several resources for dealing with ICE, border patrol, and the police.

In response to raid that occurred in Ohio a little more than a year ago, HOLA Ohio founder Veronica Isabel Dahlberg wrote in a blog on the ACLU site:

“Regardless of citizenship status, for workers — including teenagers, mothers, fathers, and those with medical issues — to be treated like enemy insurgents is beyond disturbing. It is terrible, barbaric, and inhumane.”

READ: Daughter Sues ICE After They Denied Father Cirrhosis And Diabetes Medication While In Detention Resulting In His Death

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