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California Just Outlawed Immigration Detention Expansion

By in Huffington Post on June 15, 2017

By Christina Fialho

Today, the California legislature passed the first bill in the country to put a moratorium on immigration detention expansion and give a state agency the power to monitor federal immigration detention facilities.

California’s budget bill, Assembly Bill 103, gave the Attorney General of California the power to monitor all California immigration detention facilities―both private and public. California also appropriated $1 million dollars per year for the next 10 years for the Attorney General to oversee immigration detention facility conditions.

In addition, the state of California implemented a moratorium on all new contracts between California municipalities and the federal government for immigration detention facilities. This includes contracts for both adult and child detention facilities. The budget action also prevents current municipalities, such as Orange County, from modifying their contracts to expand their publically-run immigration detention facilities.

In May, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to expand their immigration detention bed space by 120 jail cells. If signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, Assembly Bill 103 should block this expansion from going into effect.

This bill comes on the heels of the Trump administration’s announcement that it will curtail protections for detained immigrants, while expanding the immigration detention regime.

ICE and its contractors already operate with impunity in California. My organization, Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), filed a federal civil rights complaint and we gathered data through the Freedom of Information Act about sexual and physical assault in detention. We found that in the last 6 years, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) received over 33,000 complaints of sexual or physical assault against DHS component agencies. DHS’ Inspector General investigated less than 1 percent of these complaints.

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