In summary

As California lawmakers consider beefing up regulations for immigration detention facilities within the state, the Trump administration appears to be heading in the opposite direction.

As California lawmakers consider beefing up regulations for immigration detention facilities within the state, the Trump administration appears to be heading in the opposite direction.

Currently, when federal immigration authorities rent out bed space in local or privately-run jails, they require those facilities to abide by a certain set of rules. Those rules dictate how detainees should be treated; how health, safety, and legal complaints should be addressed; and how the facilities should be operated.

But the New York Times reported today:

(As) the Trump administration seeks to quickly find jail space for its crackdown on illegal immigration, it is moving to curtail these rules as a way to entice more sheriffs and local officials to make their correctional facilities available. According to two Homeland Security officials who had knowledge of the plans but declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly, new jail contracts will contain a far less detailed set of regulations.

A state bill working its way through the Legislature by Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Democrat from Bell Gardens, would incorporate the federal rules into state law.

Opponents of the bill have argued that such a reform is unnecessary because the Department of Homeland Security already enforces these standards with its partner facilities. Lara and other supporters of the bill counter that incorporating these existing standards into state law would provide teeth to rules that are insufficiently enforced.

If the federal government relaxes its contract standards, then Lara’s bill would do more than simply duplicate federal policy—it would hold California facilities at a higher standard.

You can read more about Lara’s bill and the debate over immigration detention in California here.

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Ben Christopher

Ben covers California politics and elections. Prior to that, he was a contributing writer for CalMatters reporting on the state's economy and budget. Based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, he has written...