Ninth Circuit Smacks Down Newsom Law On ICE Detention Facilities


OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, often seen by many as being liberal, crushed California’s attempt to ban private ICE detention facilities.

The court ruled against it in a three-judge panel last year and now, with a larger panel, ruled against it again, Fox News reported.

The court ruled that the California law violated the Supremacy Clause which stops states from interfering with federal government operations, Fox News reported.

The law, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2019, would have phased out privately run immigration facilities that are contracted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The law came as California and Democratic states across the country were pushing back against the Trump administration over its handling of illegal immigration.

California is a self-described “sanctuary” state which limits state and local cooperation with ICE. The federal government relies almost exclusively on two privately owned facilities in California and would have been phased out by the law.

But, in a ruling by Obama appointee Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen, the court said that California would breach the “core promise” of the Supremacy Clause.


“To comply with California law, ICE would have to cease its ongoing immigration detention operations in California and adopt an entirely new approach in the state,” the court said.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office said that it was “deeply disappointed in the outcome” and that it was still reviewing the decision.

“Assembly Bill 32 was enacted to protect the health and welfare of Californians and recognized the federal government’s own documented concerns with for-profit, private prisons, and detention facilities,” it said. “At the California Department of Justice, we’ll continue to do our part to stand up for the dignities and rights of everyone in our state.”

But others celebrated the decision.

“Open borders politicians and activists have, for years, tried to abolish ICE by taking out the very government contractors who assist with detention operations,” Federation for American Immigration Reform head of government relations RJ Hauman said to Fox News. “We’ve seen these efforts deployed in many ways, especially in California, and their efforts were correctly ruled unconstitutional.”

“The Constitution is clear — a state may not interfere with federal immigration enforcement, something the notorious Ninth Circuit even agrees with,” he said.

This comes after President Joe Biden’s administration has been blocked by a federal court from imposing limitations on arrests, detentions, and removals by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


Southern District of Ohio Judge Michael Newman made the decision after a lawsuit was filed by Republican Attorneys General of Arizona, Montana, and Ohio.

He issued a preliminary injunction stopping Biden from imposing the new guidelines on punishments for illegal immigration.

“The States sue because they believe DHS skirted Congress’s immigration enforcement mandates when it issued a policy that prioritizes certain high-risk noncitizens for apprehension and removal,” the judge said. “DHS contends that seemingly mandatory statutes must be read flexibly to permit efficient law enforcement.”

“At the bottom, that is what this dispute is about: can the Executive displace clear congressional command in the name of resource allocation and enforcement goals? Here, the answer is no,” he added.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued the Biden administration in November 2021 over the policy revision, which they said: “dramatically ties the hands of immigration officers, halting nearly all deportations.”

That month, the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, issued permanent guidance to limit whom ICE could arrest and thus remove from the country.

The guidance established that ICE officers had to obtain permission to arrest illegal immigrants who had not been convicted of an aggravated felony, were not affiliated with a gang or terrorist network or had illegally entered the U.S. before November 2020.

However, liberals are not backing down in the fight.

Liberal groups and some former government officials are calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the Biden administration’s policy that narrowed down which immigrants should be targeted for removal.

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