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Former detainees sue Otay Mesa Detention Center

Posted at 5:55 PM, Jun 11, 2018

OTAY MESA (KGTV) -- Two former detainees from the Otay Mesa Detention Center are filing a class action lawsuit that accuses the center of violating several labor laws. 

The center is operated by Core Civic, a contractor hired by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Robert Teel is the attorney representing the two men named in the lawsuit. Teel says that the men were forced to work under threat of punishment or go into solitary confinement.

The complaint also accuses Core Civic of using a volunteer "Dollar-A-Day" work program as a way to get the detainees to operate the facility for cheap. Teel argues that the volunteer program violates minimum wage laws. 

Core Civic issued the followed statement to 10News about the lawsuit:

 "As a matter of policy, we do not comment on pending or active litigation. Regarding detainee work in our facilities, all work programs at our ICE detention facilities are completely voluntary and operated in full compliance with ICE standards, including federally mandated minimum wage rates for detainee labor. We have worked in close partnership with ICE for more than 30 years and will continue to provide a safe and humane environment to those entrusted to our care."  

ICE is not mentioned in the lawsuit. A federal court judge has ruled that the case can move forward. Both sides were ordered to turn in any evidence for their case to a judge by mid-July.