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Case Name Barrientos v. Corecivic IM-GA-0012
Docket / Court 4:18-cv-00070-CDL ( M.D. Ga. )
State/Territory Georgia
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Special Collection Immigrant Detention Labor Issues
Attorney Organization Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
On April 17, 2018, three current or former detained immigrants filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. The plaintiffs sued CoreCivic, Inc., a private prison corporation that owns and operates the Stewart Detention Center (“Stewart”), under ... read more >
On April 17, 2018, three current or former detained immigrants filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. The plaintiffs sued CoreCivic, Inc., a private prison corporation that owns and operates the Stewart Detention Center (“Stewart”), under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1589, 1594, and 1595. The plaintiffs, represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center and private counsel, alleged that the defendant operated a deprivation scheme intended to force detained immigrants to work nearly for free for the detention facility, resulting in a forced labor scheme and an economic windfall for the defendant. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendant deprived detainees of basic necessities so that they were forced to work to purchase those items and threatened those who refused to work with serious harm, such as deprivation of privacy, criminal prosecution, or solitary confinement. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as damages. They claimed violations of the TVPA and unjust enrichment under state common law.

The plaintiffs sought certification of the following two classes: (1) all civil immigration detainees who performed work for CoreCivic at Stewart in the “Volunteer Work Program” within the past ten years, up to the date the class is certified (“Forced Labor Class”); and (2) all civil immigration detainees who performed work for CoreCivic at Stewart in the “Volunteer Work Program” within the past four years, up to the date the class is certified (“Unjust Enrichment Class”).

The case was assigned to Judge Clay D. Land.

On June 21, 2018, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ entire complaint for failure to state a claim under the TVPA, arguing that Congress did not intend the TVPA to apply to alien detainees in the lawful custody of the U.S. Government or to private contractors operating immigration detention facilities. On August 17, 2018, Judge Land denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss and found that the plaintiffs had alleged sufficient facts to support both their TVPA claim and their unjust enrichment claim. Most significantly, the court found that the TVPA does apply to work programs in federal immigration detention facilities operated by private for-profit contractors. However, Judge Land certified the issue for immediate interlocutory appeal given the substantial ground for difference of opinion on this issue. 332 F.Supp.3d 1305.

The defendant appealed the district court’s denial of its motion to dismiss to the Eleventh Circuit on December 12, 2018.

After holding oral argument in January 2020, an Eleventh Circuit panel (Circuit Judges Frank Hull and Stanley Marcus and District Court Judge Barbara Rothstein) issued an opinion on February 28, 2020, concluding that "the TVPA covers the conduct of private contractors operating federal immigration detention facilities." 2020 WL 964358. The Eleventh Circuit further concluded that the TVPA does not bar private contractors from operating voluntary work programs for persons held in immigration detention facilities but that private contractors who operate such programs "may be liable if they knowingly obtain or procure the labor or services of a program participant through the illegal coercive means explicitly listed in the TVPA." The Eleventh Circuit's review was limited only to the legal question of whether the TVPA applies to private contractors operating immigration detention facilities, so it did not address whether the plaintiffs' complaint sufficiently stated a claim under the TVPA.

As of March 3, 2020, this case is ongoing in the district court.

Eva Richardson - 05/22/2019
- 02/03/2020
Aaron Gurley - 03/03/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Corrections
Discrimination-basis
Immigration status
General
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary procedures
Forced labor
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Immigration/Border
Detention - conditions
Detention - procedures
National Origin/Ethnicity
Hispanic
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), 18 U.S.C. § 1589
Defendant(s) CoreCivic, Inc.
Plaintiff Description Three current or former detained immigrants.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Southern Poverty Law Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 04/17/2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
4:18-cv-00070-CDL (M.D. Ga.)
IM-GA-0012-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/03/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
IM-GA-0012-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/17/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 38] (332 F.Supp.3d 1305) (M.D. Ga.)
IM-GA-0012-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/17/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# BL-64] (2020 WL 964358)
IM-GA-0012-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 02/28/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Hull, Frank M. (N.D. Ga., Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0012-0003
Land, Clay D. (M.D. Ga.) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0012-0002
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bhatt, Priyanka show/hide docs
IM-GA-0012-0001 | IM-GA-0012-9000
Burns, Warren T. (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0012-0001 | IM-GA-0012-9000
Charest, Daniel H. (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0012-0001 | IM-GA-0012-9000
Free, Robert Andrew (Tennessee) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0012-0001 | IM-GA-0012-9000
Lopez, Bryan (Louisiana) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0012-0001 | IM-GA-0012-9000
Nelson, Korey Arthur (Louisiana) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0012-0001 | IM-GA-0012-9000
Rivera, Laura G. (Georgia) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0012-0001 | IM-GA-0012-9000
Shahshahani, Azadeh N. (Georgia) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0012-0001 | IM-GA-0012-9000
Stewart, Meredith B. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0012-0001 | IM-GA-0012-9000
Werner, Daniel (Georgia) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0012-0001 | IM-GA-0012-9000
Wright, Lydia (Mississippi) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0012-0001 | IM-GA-0012-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Acedo, Nicholas Daniel (Arizona) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0012-9000
Curry, Stephen E. (Georgia) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0012-9000
Hesman, Ashlee (Arizona) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0012-9000
Lee, Jacob B. (Arizona) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0012-9000
Love, Rachel (Arizona) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0012-9000
Struck, Daniel Patrick (Arizona) show/hide docs
IM-GA-0012-9000

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