COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A judge has granted class action status to a lawsuit accusing a Colorado sheriff's department of improperly holding people for possible deportation by federal authorities.

District Court Judge Eric Bentley issued the decision on Tuesday, expanding the lawsuit to any current and future El Paso County Jail inmates who federal authorities ask the sheriff's department to detain.

The Colorado American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in February on behalf of two men being held in the jail, arguing that state law required their release.

The sheriff's office has argued that it is housing immigrants on federal agents' behalf.

The ACLU has said the suit is the first known challenge to an attempt by federal immigration authorities to work around court rulings that limit how they work with local sheriffs.