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Federal Judge Blocks Stricter Control of Washington Immigration Detention Facility

U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle granted a preliminary injunction that stops Washington state from implementing a law to improve living conditions and supervision at its immigration detention facility, which is privately run and operated.

Focus on Tacoma’s ICE Processing Center

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The ruling benefits the Geo Group, which runs the Northwest Immigration and Customs Enforcement Processing Center in Tacoma, one of the largest in the United States with approximately 1,575 beds.

Washington’s Law on Detention Facilities

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The law in Washington mandates that private detention centers ensure adequate sanitation, supply hygiene products at no cost, serve nutritious meals, permit surprise inspections by the state, and grant detainees the ability to take legal action over living conditions.

Geo Group’s Legal Challenge

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Geo Group initiated legal action against officials in Washington, contending that the legislation discriminated against its operations by not subjecting state-managed facilities to the same stringent scrutiny.

Discrimination Against Federal Contractors

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Judge Settle found the law discriminatorily imposed stricter regulations on federal contractors like Geo Group compared to state operations, deeming this treatment unconstitutional.

Settle’s Stance on Public Health and Safety

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While recognizing Washington’s focus on public health and safety, Judge Settle declared that he could not endorse the application of laws deemed unconstitutional, even if they were crafted to tackle these specific policy issues.

Geo Group’s Response to the Ruling

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Geo Group expressed satisfaction with the ruling while also committing to provide secure residential care services that adhere to federal regulations, despite facing criticism regarding the conditions of their facility.

Concerns Over Detention Conditions

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Tacoma detainees have protested their treatment through hunger strikes, prompted by criticisms of the center’s cleanliness, food safety, and healthcare provisions.

The Prevalence of Private Detention Facilities

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According to the American Civil Liberties Union, over 90% of ICE detainees reside in facilities operated by private entities, underscoring the pivotal role firms such as Geo Group play in the detention infrastructure.

Geo Group’s Extensive Operations

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Geo Group runs over 100 facilities across various sectors, including disciplinary, immigration detention, and treatment centers.

Case Background

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The case, Geo Group Inc v Inslee et al., is being heard in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, bringing attention to the legal and ethical debates surrounding private, for-profit immigration detention facilities and the challenges of ensuring proper oversight and humane conditions.

Credits: DepositPhotos – Candidate for USA Senate for Pennsylvania Dr. Mehmet Oz delivers remarks at a Save America rally in Wilkes-Barre, September, 3, 2022, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA: Candidate for United States Senate for Pennsylvania Dr. Mehmet Oz — Photo by thenews2.com

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