California inmate fought wildfires, now faces deportation


In this photo provided by Anoop Prasad, former inmate firefighter Bounchan Keola is seen during a video conference from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Golden State Annex Detention facility, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. Keola, at the time in inmate firefighter, was injured fighting the Zogg fire earlier this year and turned over to ICE weeks later. Keola urged Gov. Gavin Newsom to halt the practice of turning over released inmates to federal immigration officials. (Anoop Prasad via AP)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Some California lawmakers are calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to stop cooperating with federal immigration authorities seeking to deport state prison inmates.

California has a state law barring local authorities from cooperating with federal immigration authorities on some crimes.

But it does not apply to the state prison system. On Thursday, immigration advocates highlighted the case of Bounchan Keola, a 39-year-old immigrant from Laos who worked as a firefighter while in prison.

When he was released in October he was transferred to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A federal judge has ordered him to be deported.

Keola told reporters he just wants a second chance.

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