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Men who were caught crossing the U.S. border. Photo: Spencer Platt / Getty

18 Republican lawmakers have sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the acting director for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Labor calling on them to help one of the largest private prison companies, GEO Group, fight a lawsuit alleging that these private prisons force labor on undocumented immigrant prisoners for $1 a day or less, the Daily Beast's Betsy Woodruff reports.

Notable: GEO Group has already given roughly a quarter of a million dollars to Republican members of Congress in the 2018 cycle.

  • The congressmen argue in the letter that undocumented immigrants should not be able to sue prison companies because they aren’t employees there, and claim forced labor saves the government money and improves prisoners' morale.
  • The letter was signed by Lamar Smith, Jody Hice, Matt Gaetz, Steve King, Mike Rogers, Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert, Dana Rohrabacher, Paul Cook, Scott Taylor, Earl “Buddy” Carter, John Ratcliffe, Duncan Hunter, Bob Gibbs, Barry Loudermilk, Brian Babin, and John Rutherford.

GEO group response: Spokesman Pablo Paez pushed back, pointing to the fact that the Obama Administration established standards for Voluntary Work Programs at all ICE detention centers and that the wage rates are set by the federal government, not private companies.

  • "GEO is required to abide by these federally mandated standards and congressionally established guidelines," he told Axios, "GEO has consistently, strongly refuted the allegations made in these lawsuits, and we intend to vigorously defend our company against these baseless claims."

Go deeper

7 mins ago - Sports

Where it stands: Weed policies by U.S. sports league

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With public support for marijuana legalization nearing unanimity, and more athletes using cannabis to treat pain, the four major U.S. sports leagues continue to reduce restrictions and punishments.

Driving the news: NBA players won't be subject to random marijuana testing this season, an extension of an agreement between the league and its players' union that began ahead of the 2020 Orlando restart.

3 hours ago - World

Scoop: Jake Sullivan discussed Saudi-Israel normalization with MBS

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg and Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan raised normalization with Israel during his recent meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, three U.S. and Arab sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Saudi Arabia would be the biggest regional player to sign onto the "Abraham Accords" peace agreement with Israel, and such a major breakthrough would likely convince other Arab and Muslim countries to follow suit.

Tech's leaky world

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Tech companies are learning what everyone in Washington already knows: Leaks of confidential info are inevitable, and "plumbing" operations to close them rarely work.

Why it matters: Most tech firms talk up the power of transparency but prefer to keep details of their operations secret from competitors and the public. Researchers, regulators and the media are increasingly relying on information provided by dissident employees and whistleblowers to see inside companies' workings.