California State Auditor to Review Local Jail Spending on Immigration Detention

May 16, 2018

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) requested the California State Auditor investigate revenues and spending of local public funds on detention of immigrants during a hearing of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

The Committee voted to approve the audit request.

The audit request has been long overdue to provide valuable data and fiscal analysis about the detention of immigrants and refugees in local jails as they await deportation proceedings. Momentum to move the audit forward was sparked by recent reports of 1,500 missing children under ICE supervision.

“Immigrant children and families are held in a system that lacks transparency, oversight and accountability for how public funds are spent,” said Senator Lara. “The Legislature has had to fish for information county-by-county, city-by-city to get piecemeal information about detention in our jails. Where are these missing children? Are they in California? This audit will help us answer those questions and ensure proper spending of public funds.”

A dozen state and locally funded facilities hold people on civil immigration charges, but the California Board of State and Community Corrections has no oversight of the local costs related to this practice.

An average 4,500 immigrants are held each day in California, many of them in public jails that also house criminal defendants. Jails may also house immigrant families and children.

The audit seeks to provide a snapshot of the practice, including confirm known contracts and identifying unknown contracts; fiscal data, including an assessment of whether state funds supplement or supplanting contract obligations; aggravation to jail overcrowding; how funds are spent; and the size of the population housed, demographic data, and disposition, including transfers, deaths and deportations.

Click here to view the letter requesting the audit.