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  • Jane Juffer

How ICE saves money by exploiting the labor of those detained

Updated: Nov 5

(note from Jane: As I wrote in the post dated June 23, ICE has a "voluntary" work program which pays people detained $1 a day for their labor, a clear violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Through this program, ICE and its private contractors who run many detention centers save millions of dollars a year. As Jacqueline Stevens writes in her article in the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, "In 2012 GEO (one of the private contractors) brought in an estimated $33 to $72 million profits from labor savings, and CCA an estimated $30 to $77 million, or about 25 percent of the company's total profits."

As Elisabeth describes here, each person is expected to do a job each day. All the names here are pseudonyms.)


August 23, 2020


Hello, my friend, how are you?


Well, I am going to tell you some things that have been happening here--things that I don't agree with but that I can't comment on because I don't speak English. Some of the women have been disagreeing about who does what job, and who isn't working enough. Someone said I wasn't doing my work, and I said, my job is to empty the trash four times a day. Virginia has the job of cleaning the shower two times a day, but she really only does it once a day. Elia cleans the tables. Martha cleans the microwave and the telephones. Patricia sweeps and mops the floor--one day above, and the next day below. Dora cleans the bathroom above. Jennifer and Jessica hand out the plates at mealtime and put the plates back in the cart when we are done eating. Delia runs the vacuum cleaner. Ester, Nicolette, Judith, and Sevan leave at 1 p.m. to cook and return at 7 p.m. Shantal works in the laundry; she goes to work at 8 or 8:15 and returns at 9 or 9:05. We all work five days a week and rest two days, so we can make $5 a week. There is a job that no one wants to do: put up the chairs and take them down before and after every meal, and sweep the floor after each meal. They are very heavy. To do this three times a day for $1 is exploitation! Each table has four chairs, and there are 17 tables, and you have to open them up and close them down. So it's a problem now because no one wants to do the job for $1. I have heard that the officials are threatening us--to take away the telephone, the TV, the tablets, and the commissary if no one does the work. This isn't fair, but what can I do?

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