The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a case Friday that seeks to dismantle the federal government’s detention of illegal aliens, in a case started by an illegal immigrant who didn’t want to clean her own space, a requirement she called slavery.
IRLI said in a press release its brief seeks to defend federal detention policy.
At issue is the requirement— in all prisons across the United States—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 seeks to make her case a class action on behalf of a large group of illegal aliens subject to the requirement that they clean their own spaces. The class also would include people who volunteer to work elsewhere in their detention facilities for $1 per day, the rate of pay set by Congress.
IRLI highlights what it calls the absurdity of interpreting the human trafficking statute to require that detained illegal 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 illegal immigrants 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, 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).
IRLI said its mission is “to defend the rights of individual Americans and their local communities from the harms and challenges posed by mass migration to the United States, both lawful and unlawful, to monitor and hold accountable federal, state, or local government officials who undermine, fail to respect, or comply with our national immigration and citizenship laws, and to provide expert immigration-related legal advice, training, and resources to public officials, the legal community, and the general public.”
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.