State sues operator of immigration detention center in Tacoma

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Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson

SEATTLE — Washington’s Attorney General is suing the operators of a federal immigration prison in Tacoma over alleged wage violations.

Bob Ferguson said Wednesday that he sued The GEO Group in Pierce County Superior Court, alleging the company has violated Washington state minimum wage laws for over a decade.

He says that since at least 2005, GEO used immigration detainees to perform laundry and other non-security work at the Northwest Detention Center and paid thousands of workers $1 per day.

GEO owns and operates the facility on contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The state’s lawsuit asks the court to order GEO to comply with Washington’s minimum wage laws. GEO did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The facility opened in 2004 with a 500 beds. It has since expanded capacity and now has 1,575 beds, making it one of the largest immigration detention centers in the United States.