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Judge Refuses To Dismiss Suit Over Wages For Detainees

SEATTLE (AP) — A federal judge again has refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Bob Ferguson against the private company that owns and operates a Tacoma immigration-detention center in an effort to force the company to give up its profits and pay immigration detainees the state’s minimum wage for jobs they perform.

The Seattle Times reports it’s the third ruling U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan has issued since the lawsuit was filed in 2017 that has gone against the GEO Group Inc.

The company contracts with the Department of Homeland Security to operate the 1,575-bed Northwest Detention Center where immigration detainees are held pending hearings or deportation. At issue is a Voluntary Work Program operated by GEO in which detainees perform tasks such as janitorial work and are paid $1 a day for their efforts.

In the latest ruling, handed down Monday, Bryan granted a motion by Ferguson’s office challenging the company’s claim that, as a federal contractor, it enjoys the same immunity that the government does from lawsuits.

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