Senator Lara ‘Dignity not Detention’ Bill Will End Cities’ Role in Immigrant Detention for Profit and Enforce Human Rights Standards Statewide

March 28, 2017

SACRAMENTO, CA – With the Trump Administration poised to expand immigration detention nationwide, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bill 29, the Dignity not Detention bill authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), by a 5-2 vote.

Senate Bill 29 will prohibit California local governments from entering into new contracts or extending contracts with for-profit companies to detain immigrants. The bill requires all California facilities that detain immigrants to adhere to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) standards, which includes access to medical treatment, the right to file grievances, and have visitation by legal counsel and family members.

“The Trump Administration’s stated goal to deport millions of U.S. residents would require a massive expansion of detention, and California would be ground zero for that,” said Sen. Lara. “We know what the Trump Administration’s priorities will be: private prisons and minimal standards. Senate Bill 29 will keep local governments out of the private prison business and make sure immigrants are not held beyond the reach of the Constitution.”

Sen. Lara introduce Senate Bill 29 because the Trump administration has declined to move forward on a December 2016 report by the Department of Homeland Services that exposed problems in private and locally contracted detention centers and called for enforcing ICE’s detention standards at all facilities.

Private immigration detention is a billion-dollar business, and reports have shown that both private and locally run detention facilities violate ICE’s standards and immigrants endure physical and sexual abuse, poor access to healthcare, little access to legal counsel, and overuse of solitary confinement, and even death.

California has three privately run detention centers that have contracts with local jurisdictions: Adelanto Detention Facility (City of Adelanto, 2,000 beds), Mesa Verde Detention Facility (City of McFarland, 400 beds), and the Imperial Regional Detention Center (City of Holtville, 704 beds). Five jurisdictions contract with ICE to hold detainees in local jails: Contra Costa County, Orange County, Sacramento County, and Yuba County.

The City of Santa Ana voted to reduce the number of detainees in its jail, prompting ICE to cancel its contract.

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