For $3 a day, Yesica works the graveyard shift in the kitchens of the for-profit immigration prison where she is locked up.
Each morning, at 1 a.m., the guards of the Joe Corley Detention Facility in southeast Texas rouse Yesica and the 35 other women who share a dormitory-style room. Work begins an hour later and lasts through sunrise, ending at 8 a.m. Yesica does everything from cooking breakfast, to serving her fellow detainees, to cleaning up.
Even at $3, toiling in the kitchen pays better than sweeping prison corridors, which pays the Immigration and Customs Enforcement-stipulated minimum of $1 a day. The work, officially speaking, isn’t mandatory. But “since there’s absolutely nothing to do” inside, Yesica said, detainees work to keep at bay the stress of not knowing when they’ll be released—or if they’ll be deported.
Yesica, 23, fled her native El Salvador after MS-13 persecuted her for being a lesbian. The brutal gang, which the Trump administration uses to demonize immigrants like her, murdered her father, and she came to the United States to seek the safety of rejoining family here. She has instead spent the last two years locked inside ICE’s prisons.
“This is a really terrible place,” Yesica told The Daily Beast through a translator from the Corley center. “It’s inhumane. It’s like a torture chamber.” [Continue reading…]