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American Civil Liberties Union

Would you work for $1 to $3 a day?

Would you work for $1 to $3 a day?

Each year, tens of thousands of people being held in the federal immigration detention system are put to work scrubbing floors, cooking meals and landscaping grounds, among other menial jobs. They can work as much as eight hours a day and 40 hours a week. The pay: $1 to $3 a day.

That's right. Up to $3 a day in a nation where the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Since the work shifts are voluntary, it's hard to call this slavery, but it is highly objectionable that the government takes financial advantage of detainees being held pending immigration hearings.

As The Times reported this week, Congress set the voluntary work program's dollar-a-day minimum wage in...