California Assembly Passes Dignity Not Detention Act & Says No to Private Immigration Detention

Kemi Bello, ILRC Communications Manager

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                           
August 23, 2016                                             

Kemi Bello,, (415) 321-8568

California Assembly Passes Dignity Not Detention Act & Says No to Private Immigration Detention
Bill Heads to Governor’s Desk, Poised to Become the First State Law of Its Kind

SACRAMENTO, CA - Today the California Assembly sent a strong message in favor of ending private immigration detention through its passage of SB 1289, also known as the Dignity Not Detention Act. On the heels of last week’s Department of Justice announcement ending its eventual use of federal private prisons, California is poised to take the lead in ending statewide use of private immigration detention centers.

However, as SB 1289’s hopeful approval by the Governor sets a model in place for other states to act in tandem, we join advocates and community members across the country in demanding that the Department of Homeland Security end its use of private immigration detention altogether.

The California legislature has spoken, stating that the state will no longer be complicit in the private immigration detention industry’s practice of consistently putting profits over the humane treatment of people. Particularly in light of the Department of Justice’s departure from its use of federal private prisons, we urge the Governor to sign this bill into law and ensure that California is on the right side of history in pushing back on mass incarceration,” said Grisel Ruiz, Staff Attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.

Private companies like the Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO group are in the business of profiting off of the suffering of immigrant detainees and, through the use of bed quotas, have a clear financial incentive to detain as many people as possible. Though the Department of Homeland Security is one of the largest clients of private prison companies, many of its contracted-for-profit facilities are mismanaged, leading to human rights abuses, including three deaths at the GEO group-run Adelanto facility alone. There have been consistent reports by current and former detained immigrants of physical and sexual abuse, poor access to healthcare, and little to no access to legal counsel. LGBTQ detainees have reported facing additional harassment and overuse of solitary confinement due to their sexual orientation.

Senate Bill 1289 would prohibit local governments from contracting with private companies seeking to operate immigration detention facilities in California. It would also require all other detention facilities in California to uphold the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) 2011 Operations Performance-Based National Detention Standards, which are, to date, not written into law and therefore not enforceable. This historic bill would be the first of its kind to ensure compliance with these standards while also including extra protections for LGBTQ immigrants, a particular vulnerable group in detention. SB 1289 is co-sponsored by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) and Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC).

We look to Governor Brown to sign SB 1289 into law, ensuring that every Californian, regardless of immigration status, is treated humanely and with dignity.


About the Immigrant Legal Resource Center

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is a national nonprofit that works with immigrants, community organizations, legal professionals, law enforcement, and policy makers to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people. Through community education programs, legal training & technical assistance, and policy development & advocacy, the ILRC’s mission is to protect and defend the fundamental rights of immigrant families and communities.

About Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement

CIVIC is a national nonprofit working to end the isolation and abuse of people in immigration detention through visitation, storytelling, detention monitoring, and other targeted campaigns.