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

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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Alejandro Mayorkas Is The First Latino And Immigrant To Be Named Secretary Of The Department Of Homeland Security

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Alejandro Mayorkas Is The First Latino And Immigrant To Be Named Secretary Of The Department Of Homeland Security

Alejandro Mayorkas is the first Latino and the first immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Mayorkas is Cuban-born and was one of the original architects of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Alejandro Mayorkas is the first Latino and immigrant to be confirmed as the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Secretary Mayorkas is inheriting a Trump-era DHS and is immediately getting to work to rectify issues that the Biden administration has highlighted. Two of the most pressing issues are heading up a task force to reunite migrant families who were separated by the previous administration and reviewing the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

“Remain in Mexico” is a policy that the Trump administration created and enforced that sent migrants to Mexico to await their asylum cases. The policy has been criticized both by U.S. and international politicians as a humanitarian issue.

It isn’t Mayorkas’ first time working for DHS.

Sec. Mayorkas was the deputy secretary of DHS from December 2013 – October 2016 under President Barack Obama. During that time, Mayorkas was crucial in responding to the 2013 – 14 Ebola virus epidemic and 2015 – 16 Zika virus epidemic. Mayorkas is ready to come back to the department and to bring back what he sees are the department’s mission.

“DHS bears an extraordinary weight on behalf of the American people, the weight of grave challenges seen and unseen,” Sec. Mayorkas said in a statement. “It is the greatest privilege of my life to return to the Department to lead the men and women who dedicate their talent and energy to the safety and security of our nation. I will work every day to ensure that they have the tools they need to execute their missions with honor and integrity. The mission of the Department of Homeland Security is to safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values. The United States is a welcoming and empathetic nation, one that finds strength in its diversity. I pledge to defend and secure our country without sacrificing these American values.”

Mayorkas is no stranger to working on America’s immigration system.

Mayorkas is one of the original architects of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which is at stake because of the previous administration. The Biden administration has made a promise to preserve DACA and to create a pathway to citizenship to the 11 million undocumented people living in the U.S.

President Biden has introduced legislation to reform the current immigration system. The legislation has a timeframe for all undocumented people in the U.S. to become citizens if they follow certains steps and meet certain criteria.

While Mayorkas got bipartisan support in the Senate confirmation, some Republicans did not like his work in immigration. Sen. Marco Rubio, a fellow Cuban, voted to opposed Mayorkas.

“Not only has Mayorkas pledged to undo the sensible protections put in place by the Trump Administration that ended the dangerous policy of catch and release, but his nomination is further evidence that the Biden Administration intends to pursue a radical immigration agenda,” Sen. Rubio said in a statement.

READ: President Biden Introduces Legislation To Create Pathway To Citizenship For 11 Million Undocumented People

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President Biden Introduces Legislation To Create Pathway To Citizenship For 11 Million Undocumented People

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President Biden Introduces Legislation To Create Pathway To Citizenship For 11 Million Undocumented People

President Joe Biden promised that he would introduce legislation to create a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people. The president has followed through with the promise and all eyes are on the government as millions wait to see what happens next.

President Joe Biden has been busy the first couple of weeks of his presidency.

President Biden is proposing a pathway to citizenship that millions of people in the U.S. have been asking for. There are around 11 million people who are undocumented in the U.S. The pathway to citizenship will take time, according to the legislation, but some people will have time shaved off of their pathway, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and farm workers who have worked throughout the pandemic.

The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 is designed to change the immigration system that has created a backlog of immigration cases. There are multiple steps in the proposed legislation starting with creating a pathway to citizenship. Those who would benefit from the bill are people who are physically in the U.S. by January 2, 2021.

First, the bill allows for people to apply for temporary legal status. After five years, and if the person passes a criminal and national security background check, they can apply for a green card. Three years after that, people who pass further background checks and demonstrate a knowledge of English and civics can apply for citizenship.

A line in the bill aims to help people deported during the previous administration.

“The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may waive the presence requirement for those deported on or after January 20, 2017, who were physically present for at least three years prior to removal for family unity and other humanitarian purposes,” reads the proposed legislation.

The bill also wants to change the word “alien” to “noncitizen” in immigration laws to embrace the country’s stance as a country of immigrants.

The legislation has been introduced and now immigration activists are waiting to see it happen.

The legislation tackles several issues that have plagued the immigration system in the U.S. The bill proposes increasing visa limits for certain countries, keeping families together, removing discrimination against LGBTQ+ families, and so many other initiatives to start reforming the immigration system.

President Biden has been offering executive orders that are in the same vein as the bill. Many have aimed as fixing issues that were created by the previous administration and the president is not hiding from it.

“There’s a lot of talk, with good reason, about the number of executive orders I’ve signed. I’m not making new law. I’m eliminating bad policy,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office while signing executive orders. “What I’m doing is taking on the issues that, 99 percent of them, that the last president of the United States issued executive orders I thought were counterproductive to our national security, counterproductive to who we are as a country. Particularly in the area of immigration.”

The undocumented population peaked in 2007 at 12.2 million and has declined since then. There are at least 4.4 million people in the U.S. with at least one undocumented parent, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

READ: President Joe Biden Signs Executive Order To Preserve DACA

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