Private Prison Company Sues California Over New State Law Targeting For-Profit Immigration Detention

Brittany M. Hughes | January 3, 2020

The GEO Group Inc, one of the nation’s largest for-profit prison companies, has filed a lawsuit in federal court against California over a new state law that will phase out privately run immigration detention centers, alleging the state has no authority over congressionally funded facilities contracted to help enforce federal law.

According to this, the GEO Group Inc., a Florida-based company that runs nearly 70 for-profit detention facilities across the country, argues that the state’s newly passed AB 32 runs afoul of the law by attempting to block the implementation of federal immigration policy at the state level. In implemented, the law, recently signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, would make California the first state to outlaw private prisons, including detention centers contracted by federal immigration authorities.

“The unlawful effect of AB 32 is to undermine and eliminate the congressionally funded and approved enforcement of federal criminal and immigration laws,” alleges the complaint, filed in federal court in San Diego on Monday.

The complaint also states The GEO Group Inc. stands to lose $250 million per year if the company is forced to close its seven facilities in California.

The company filed their complaint after signing an updated and expanded contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to provide beds in their facilities for illegal aliens awaiting court proceedings to immigration violations. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office disagrees. As KQED reports: 

Vicky Waters, a spokeswoman in Gov. Newsom’s office, said they will review the complaint.

“As our office has previously stated, for-profit prisons, including ICE-contracted facilities, run contrary to our values and have no place in California,” said Waters. “Governor Newsom signed AB 32 earlier this year to phase them out.”