IRLI defends federal detention policy
WASHINGTON – The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a case that seeks nothing less than to dismantle the federal government’s system of detaining illegal aliens and criminal aliens, largely in facilities operated by federal contractors. At issue is the requirement—found in all prisons across the United States—that detainees clean their own living spaces. Being forced to clean up after herself, the plaintiff argues, amounts to slavery or forced labor outlawed by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
The plaintiff is also seeking to make her case a class action on behalf of a large group of aliens also subject to the requirement that they clean their own spaces. The class also would include aliens who volunteer to work elsewhere in their detention facilities for $1 per day, the rate of pay set by Congress.
In its brief, IRLI highlights the absurdity of interpreting the human trafficking statute to require that detained aliens receive taxpayer-funded personal cleaning services. The aliens’ demand is especially absurd because many of them chose their detention. In many cases, federal law allows criminal aliens to return to their home countries instead of waiting in detention while their immigration claims proceed. And, of course, many illegal aliens voluntarily submit to federal custody in the hopes of winning legal status in the United States, instead of applying for entry from abroad.
In its brief, IRLI also shows that a private company has sovereign immunity from suit when it is simply performing its contract with the federal government. IRLI does note, however, that if a company commits extreme misconduct outside the terms of its contract, it may be sued.
“This lawsuit is an abuse of the legal process,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “The activist lawyers representing the plaintiff are far less interested in redressing her alleged injuries than in making the cost of detaining aliens unacceptably high, in hopes of crashing the system. Of course it’s not slavery to make detainees clean up after themselves, let alone to give them voluntary work opportunities while they’re in detention. Certainly, companies should be held accountable if they abuse the system, but this lawsuit is an attack on the system itself.”
The case is Gonzalez v CoreCivic, No. 19-50691 (Fifth Circuit).
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