One Dollar Per Day: The Slaving Wages of Immigration Jail Work Programs - A History and Legal Analysis, 1943-Present

Jacqueline Stevens

Northwestern University

May 15, 2014

This Paper evaluates the legality of the $1 per day payments for work performed by those in custody under immigration laws as well as its genesis. In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt issued an order moving the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) out of the Department of Labor and into the Justice Department. During this same time frame, the U.S. Government established internment camps for "enemy aliens," i.e., civilians in the United States and other countries in Latin America who were or were imagined to be citizens of Axis powers. In 1943, the Justice Department paid those so held 80 cents per day for their work performed in the camps; the average daily cost of each person's detention in 1943 was one dollar. This was the origins of the 1950 law authorizing paying those in custody under immigration laws for work performed. If those in immigration custody today were paid at the ratio from 1943, they would be earning about $80 per day. This paper draws on government documents and contracts obtained under the Freedom of Information Act as well as the program's implementation and history as the basis for a statutory analysis of the Government's defense of its legality. The Paper argues that under a reading of the relevant laws' plain meaning, legislative history, and purpose, the program appears to violate various labor laws and the Fifth, Sixth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 160

Keywords: ICE, detention, prison work, private prisons, employment law, immigration law, deportation

JEL Classification: J38, J50, J41

Open PDF in Browser Download This Paper

Date posted: May 9, 2014 ; Last revised: May 17, 2014

Suggested Citation

Stevens, Jacqueline, One Dollar Per Day: The Slaving Wages of Immigration Jail Work Programs - A History and Legal Analysis, 1943-Present (May 15, 2014). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2434006 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2434006

Contact Information

Jacqueline Stevens (Contact Author)
Northwestern University ( email )
2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
847-467-2093 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.jacquelinestevens.org
Feedback to SSRN

Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 1,214
Downloads: 206
Download Rank: 99,910

© 2015 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo1 in 0.547 seconds