SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A larger panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday again blocked California’s first-in-the-nation ban on for-profit private prisons and immigration detention facilities, finding that it is trumped by the federal government.
A three-judge appellate panel last year rejected the 2019 state law that would have phased out privately run immigration jails in California by 2028. The law would have undermined a key piece of the nation’s detention system for immigrants.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta had asked the larger appellate panel to reconsider a ruling. The law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom was one of many efforts to limit California’s cooperation with the federal government as then-President Donald Trump imposed hardline policies on immigration enforcement. But the Biden administration continued the U.S. government’s opposition to the law on constitutional grounds.
The 11-member appellate panel said the state law is preempted by the federal government under the U.S. Constitution’s “supremacy clause.” It sent the case back to the trial court for a decision on other legal arguments. The Geo Group Inc., which operates two such facilities in California, sued to block the law. Neither Geo nor U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement immediately commented on the ruling.