Lawsuit Claims LIBRE BY NEXUS ‘Cheats Immigrants,’ But Will Biden Administration Address Roots of Problem?
Originally published at https://www.latinorebels.com on February 25, 2021.
By Rebekah Sperling and Austin Kocher
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and attorneys general from Massachusetts, Virginia, and New York filed suit against Libre by Nexus this week for preying on immigrants through a convoluted program of exploitive fees, threats, and false promises of freedom. The lawsuit alleges that Libre was charging exorbitant fees for immigration bonds, then strapping immigrants with high monthly fees, a GPS ankle monitor, and unfounded threats that if they damaged the device, they would face felony charges. Immigrants have agreed to these troubling and perhaps unlawful terms rather than spend months or even years trying to fight their deportation case from inside a detention facility.
While Libre may appear to be an exceptional case against a “bad actor,” this case actually further justifies Biden’s claim on the campaign trail that “the federal government should not use private facilities for any detention, including detention of undocumented immigrants” and “eliminate all other methods of profiteering off of incarceration-including diversion programs, commercial bail, and electronic monitoring.”
Immigrant detention has become big business, with companies such as Geo Group and CoreCivic earning high-value government contracts to run detention centers across the country. In his book Migrating to Prison, César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández argues that the growth of immigrant detention centers is due in part to “financial incentives,” which help explain why 65 percent of detained immigrants are held in private facilities (p. 15). Getting immigrants out of detention has been a focus of legal advocates who point to higher rates of representation among those not in detention. A study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University found that at most 30 percent of detained immigrants have an attorney, while 60 to 80 percent of non-detained immigrants have one.
Reducing detention is typically viewed as reducing the economic exploitation of migrants, but private companies like Libre are also…