Key Members of Congress: Trump Admin's attempt to skirt CA detention center ban may violate federal law

For Immediate Release: November 15, 2019
Contact: Arianna Rosales,
; Jackie Gonzalez,


Key Members of Congress: Trump Admin's attempt to skirt CA detention center ban may violate federal law

 Advocates hail strong push for oversight from Congressional leaders

San Francisco, CA— Immigrant rights advocates are praising the action taken yesterday by Congressional leaders in response to attempts by the Trump administration to undercut a groundbreaking California law which will ban all for profit detention centers and prisons in the state.

In a scathing letter released yesterday, 21 members of Congress raised serious concerns that the Department of Homeland Security’s recent actions may run afoul of federal contracting laws and formally requested key information regarding DHS’ conduct, including all correspondence between ICE and for-profit prison corporations. Signatories to the letter include California Senators Feinstein and Harris, the Chair of the House Committees on the Judiciary (Nadler), Homeland Security (Bennie Thompson), Oversight and Reform (Maloney), the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship (Lofgren), and numerous members of California’s Congressional delegation.

AB 32, like most newly passed laws in California, is set to go into effect on January 1. It prohibits new private prison or detention center contracts and also bars existing contracts from renewing. However, a week after the law was passed, ICE released a request for bids for new detention centers with an expedited timeline — totally disregarding existing federal procurement law — a troubling move that several legal experts have questioned.

 In response to these developments, Grisel Ruiz, Supervising Attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, stated: 

“ICE’s actions are a clear example of the federal government’s corrupt involvement with private prisons; they’re attempting to deal out contracts behind closed doors in a desperate attempt to allow their cronies to continue immorally profiting from the incarceration of our immigrant communities.

For-profit immigration jails in our state have become infamous for shocking conditions and a heartbreaking series of deaths. We expect our elected officials to take the necessary actions to expose ICE’s deceptive contracting practices, and thereby defend our values and our communities. We believe these contracts violate federal law and will continue to fight against abusive detention facilities and to free our community members.” 

A grassroots coalition of several immigrant and civil rights organizations pushed to pass AB 32 and have been advocating with federal and state officials to ensure strong implementation of the law.