On February 2018, Tacoma City Council passed an ordinance that bans expansion of the Northwest Detention Center and blocks the building of these facilities in other areas zoned heavy industrial.
Let's keep up the struggle, as GEO Group is suing the City and trying to get in the courts what they lost in the democratic process!
To: Tacoma Planning Commission
Tell Tacoma not to Block WA State's Lawsuit Against GEO Group!
This campaign has ended.
Tell the City of Tacoma not to change its municipal code to say that detention centers are correctional facilities! This change would allow GEO Group to avoid paying state minimum wage to detained immigrant workers.
Why is this important?
In March 2017, Tacoma City Council enacted emergency interim zoning regulations pertaining to correctional facilities. The explicit goal at that time was to make it more difficult for correctional facilities to expand. Since it opened with 516 beds in 2005, the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) has expanded twice more to 1,575 beds, and one council member was concerned that it would expand again. In December, the Planning Commission rewrote a proposal to change the municipal code to explicitly state that immigrant detention centers are defined as correctional facilities. We think this will only help GEO Group to fight a lawsuit that demands it pay minimum wage to detained immigrants.
In September 2017, the Washington State Attorney General filed a lawsuit against GEO for failing to pay minimum wage. GEO Group currently pays people $1 per day, and sometimes only snacks, to do most of the work at the facility, including the cooking, cleaning, and laundry. GEO Group claims it doesn’t have to pay workers minimum wage because the detention center is a correctional facility. In the September 20 press conference announcing the lawsuit, however, Attorney General Bob Ferguson pointed out that immigrant detention centers are not correctional facilities -- correctional facilities are for people going through the criminal justice system, not administrative immigration proceedings. If Tacoma changes its municipal code, GEO can use this change as evidence that it should get to keep paying people $1 per day.
Tell the City of Tacoma not to do GEO Group’s bidding, and not to sabotage the state minimum wage!
How it will be delivered
We will deliver the petition to the Tacoma City Planning Commission as part of the January 3 public hearing on correctional facilities.