Monthly Archives: March 2018

Republican congressmen defend $1 a day wage for immigrant detainees who work in private prisons

By Tracy Jan

The Adelanto Detention Facility in Adelanto, Calif., managed by the private GEO Group, houses immigrants pending decisions about their immigration status or awaiting deportation. (John Moore/Getty Images)

A group of 18 Republican congressmen is urging the Trump administration to defend private prisons against lawsuits alleging immigrant detainees are forced to work for a wage of $1 a day.

The members say that Congress in 1978 had explicitly set the daily reimbursement rate for voluntary work by detainees in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities, and that the same rate should apply in government-contracted private prisons.

“Alien detainees should not be able to use immigration detention as a means of obtaining stable employment that will encourage them to pursue frivolous claims to remain in the country and in detention for as long as possible,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, and acting ICE director Thomas Homan.

In the March 7 letter, first reported by the Daily Beast, the congressmen argue that the detainees are not employees of private prisons, so they should not be able to file lawsuits seeking to be paid for their work.

“It is our expectation that you will soon get involved in this litigation and take the position that these lawsuits lack legal merit and should be dismissed,” they said.

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

[Private-prison giant, resurgent in Trump era, gathers at president’s resort]

At least five lawsuits have been filed against private prisons, including the GEO Group and CoreCivic, over detainee pay and other issues. The lawsuits allege that the private prison giants use voluntary work programs to violate state minimum wage laws, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, unjust enrichment and other labor statutes.

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Big Cranberry Juice: We can stop UTIs. Science: Maybe.

By Caitlin Dewey

A grower harvests cranberries in a bog in Carver, Mass. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Plagued by changing consumer preferences and growing foreign competition, U.S. cranberry growers are betting the bog … on urinary tract infections.

Juice sales have fallen flat. Producers grow more berries than Americans consume. Against that backdrop, cranberry behemoth Ocean Spray has invested millions of dollars into research on the link between cranberries and UTIs — and is requesting regulators’ permission to advertise that women get fewer UTIs when they drink cranberry juice.

The move has precipitated a showdown between industry-funded science and independent critics. Many experts dispute Ocean Spray’s claim that cranberries reduce urinary tract infections.

The labels could help beleaguered growers, they say, but would do little for UTI patients — or for consumer trust in America’s food-label system.

“These health claims are marketing ploys that mislead consumers,” said Bonnie Liebman, the nutrition director at the consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest. “All they do is sell products. That’s why companies use them.”

Ocean Spray insists that motivation doesn’t invalidate the company’s research.

A massive agricultural cooperative composed of 700 farms across five states, Canada and Chile, Ocean Spray has long dominated the production and processing of U.S. cranberries, turning the niche, seasonal enterprise into a multibillion-dollar industry.

To do that, Ocean Spray has invented an array of cranberry products that include canned cranberry sauce, cranberry juice cocktail and the now-ubiquitous Craisin.

The cooperative has also invested heavily in health research on cranberries, with a particular focus on the age-old claim that cranberry juice can prevent or treat urinary tract infections. Roughly half of all U.S. women will contract a UTI at some point in their lifetime, according to the American Urological Association.

Clark Reinhard, Ocean Spray’s vice president of global innovation, says the cooperative’s research has consistently shown that daily cranberry …read more

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