*Practice limited to federal immigration law. Licensed in NY, MA, but not in CA.

New California Law Grants Detainees Enhanced Right to Sue For-Profit Prisons for Abuse

California Assembly Bill 3228: An Overview

According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed Assembly Bill 3228—a state law that grants immigrant detainees enhanced legal rights to sue for-profit prisons for abuse and neglect. It is a critically important piece of legislation that could bring greater justice and accountability to California. Below, our Los Angeles immigration attorney highlights the most important things you should know about the new state law.

A First-of-Its-Kind Law to Hold Private Contractors Accountable

Strongly supported by immigrant rights advocates, Assembly Bill 3228 is being touted as a first-of-its-kind bill in the United States. Under the law, immigrants being held within the State of California would have the right to file a lawsuit directly against a private company for violations of the minimum standard of care.

As explained by the sponsors of the legislation, these companies have been shielded from accountability for far too long. Loopholes within the law have made it very difficult for immigrants to bring legal claims for abuse and neglect. Human rights activist Hamid Yazdan Panah notes that “the highest level of scrutiny should be placed on any for-profit entity” involved in holding undocumented immigrants.

The Bill Allows Plaintiffs to Collect Reasonable Costs and Attorneys’ Fees

One of the major problems in holding private prison contractors accountable is that they have very deep pockets. Of course, this is in sharp contrast to most detainees who have relatively limited financial resources. It is difficult for vulnerable people to go up against powerful corporations. AB 3228 contains a provision to allow plaintiffs to collect court costs and attorneys’ fees in a successful lawsuit. It is a key legal mechanism that makes it easier to hold negligent companies liable for abusive practices. Undocumented immigrants should not have to pay out of their own pocket for legal services to hold a private company liable for abuse and/or neglect.

Building on AB 32—California’s Eventual Ban on For-Profit Immigration Detention Centers

California has already moved to phase-out for-profit immigration detention facilities. AB 3228 extends on the progress made in AB 32. Under the current schedule, all private immigration detention centers will cease operations in California as of 2034. Originally, the law called for a ban on private immigration detention centers as of 2027. However, although California’s legislators pushed for a faster deadline, ICE took last-minute actions to sign and renew contracts with several large companies.

Schedule an Immigration Consultation With a Los Angeles Immigration Attorney

At Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, we have a passion for immigration law. With experience handling the entire range of cases, our legal team will protect your rights and help you navigate the claims process. Call our Los Angeles office to get fully confidential guidance from a top-rated immigration attorney. We are proud to represent clients all over Southern California, including in Long Beach, Anaheim, Beverly Hills, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Irvine, and Compton.

Josh Goldstein
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