A Guatemalan illegal immigrant prepares to board a plane at a flight operation unit at Mesa airport during his deportation process in Phoenix, Arizona July 10, 2009. (Photo : REUTERS/Carlos Barria )
Undocumented immigrants detained by ICE are paid a dollar a day for labor at a Florida detention facility, according to a report in The Nation.
Located in Deerfield Beach, the privately run Broward Transitional Center (BTC) houses 700 people, some of whom are "volunteer" workers earning a meager dollar for a day's labor. The report, written by Aura Bogado, says the detainees do maintenance work at the facility and work in the kitchen.
"And so it is that people who are ineligible to obtain work permits because of their immigration status earn a dollar a day to run the essential operations of the detention center that holds them captive," Bogado wrote.
The two-story facility holds rougly 600 men and an additional separated group of 100 women. The time the detainees spend at BTC depends on how long it takes government officials to process their deportation. According to the report some are detained for months at a time.
The facility is owned by the Geo Group, Inc., who, according to a report from the Sun Sentinel, earns $112 per day for each of the first 500 people detained. The company earns $6.42 for every other additional detainee. GEO and ICE officials would not disclose the terms of their contract but experts say the average nationwide cost of housing a detainee is $120 per day, the report says, adding that the contract is worth more than $20 million a year.
According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, GEO, its subsidiaries, and staff have contributed more than $3 million to state elections nationwide, the report says. The company has also hired a Florida lobbying firm to pressure Congress to ensure that the government doesn't relax its current immigration policy.
According to the company's annual financial report filed with the Security and Exchange Commission in March, company officials noted its services "could be adversely affected" by lenient immigration laws.
The company has also taken some heat from Congress after young activists infiltrated the facility and uncovered potential cases of human rights abuse. Twenty-six Congressman wrote Geo and demanded a review of all detainees and an investigation into the BTC's medical care.
Geo's detention facilities have come under scrutiny before for alleged prisoner abuse. See video below.