Immigration Law

Cert. Denied in Menocal v. GEO Group (Oct. 1, 2018)

Jacqueline Stevens writes: "

Supreme Court Conference Announcement: Cert Denied for Menocal et al. v. GEO Group, Inc.

 
From October 1, 2018 Supreme Court Docket for The GEO Group, Inc., Petitioner
v. 
Alejandro Menocal, et al.
In its petition last June, GEO reiterated arguments that lost in the Colorado federal district court, and lost in the Tenth Circuit appellate court.  In urging the Supreme Court to review the claims on their legal merits before the case has gone to trial, GEO wrote:
[T]he court held that a longstanding government program aimed at reducing detainees’ idle time may now be categorically unjust some standard that no one has quite pinned down....GEO is being sued for carrying out lawful and longstanding federal policies under an existing federal contract....If interlocutory appeals are still denied, contractors will face a tidal wave of class actions by hundreds of thousands of detainees before a single federal appellate court has reviewed de novo the merits of these TVPA and unjust enrichment claims... 
GEO seems to be under the impression that if it calls "forced labor" "reducing ... idle time" and breaks the law for a long time, its wrongdoing is grandfathered in just because it has a federal contract.   ("I've been driving 90 miles per hour on this freeway for decades. Here's my contract with the U.S. Postal Service. How else am I going to be able to deliver the mail?!") GEO's rationale is evidence that power and money, and the obscurity and secrecy of detention conditions, have been cushioning them for years from the firm's obligations to the rule of law.  (For the origins of this litigation, please see this Washington Post article and details on this and related cases here.)

GEO also argues that their important mission of locking people up urges the Supreme Court to review their case right now:
The combined force of these suits—and more that are sure to follow on the tailwinds of the panel’s decision—are burdensome to GEO and threaten to pass on greater costs to American taxpayers, as the costs of private detention services must rise in response to the litigation. Indeed, that is plainly the goal: to reduce the availability of one of the federal government’s chosen means of carrying out its Constitutional mandate to control the nation’s borders. That alone warrants this Court’s intervention.  
The Supreme Court one day may review this case.  In the meantime, we'll have to see how GEO's warnings play out.  The options are: settle and negotiate back pay to the classes certified in Colorado and other states or continue to litigate, lose in a jury trial in Colorado, and then file more appeals in a couple of years.  (Oh, and this reminds me: what about their reassurances to their shareholders, that this litigation was baseless and no big deal?)

Motions and orders on this and six other cases are here, though need some updating.  For an overview of the impact of this litigation, including successful claims that GEO has violated minimum wage laws in the states of Washington and California, see "When Migrants are Treated Like Slaves," New York Times, April 4, 2018."