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Appeals Court Voids CA Ban On Private Immigration Detention

A federal appeals court struck down California's ban on privately-run immigrant detention centers in a case filed by private prison operator GEO Group and the Biden administration. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said California's 2019 ban gave the state too much control over how the federal government handles immigrant detainees, Reuters reports. A federal judge in San Diego upheld the state law in 2020, ruling that California could prohibit private detention centers because federal law does not explicitly allow for them. The 9th Circuit, dividing 8-3, said the government has come to rely almost exclusively on detention centers operated by GEO Group and other companies. California does not have the authority to interfere with the federal government's operations, the court said.


About 80 percent of immigrants awaiting deportation hearings are held in private facilities, say the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups. Most are operated by GEO Group and rival CoreCivic Inc., with dozens owned by smaller companies. The California ban "was enacted to protect the health and welfare of Californians and recognized the federal government's own documented concerns with for-profit, private prisons and detention facilities," said the state Attorney General's office. Immigrant advocates have said private facilities often are overcrowded and understaffed, subjecting detainees to inhumane conditions. While campaigning in 2020, Biden said he wanted to end the use of private detention centers to house immigrants.

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