California has approved a plan to spend $1 million to review immigration detention centers and local holding centers that house undocumented immigrants for the federal government.
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California has approved a plan to spend $1 million to review immigration detention centers and local holding centers that house undocumented immigrants for the federal government and prohibits local jurisdictions from expanding their holding contracts or starting new agreements with federal immigration agencies.
State lawmakers added the provisions to the state budget a few days before it was approved in June. The move is the latest in the Legislature’s attempt to push back on the Trump administration’s promise to crack down on immigration and increase deportations.
The state Attorney General’s office will oversee the review of the holding centers to ensure that detainees are being held in adequate conditions and have access to things like food, doctors, and lawyers as well as humane treatment. The office also received $6.5 million to respond to actions taken at the federal level across several areas including health, immigration, education and public safety.
“California will stand up even if some other parts of the country won’t,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said at a press conference in San Francisco last month. “We have a right—in fact, we have an obligation—to make sure the people are afforded the treatment and respect that any of us would expect under the law.”
A report on the conditions is due to the legislature in 2019.
There are nine immigration detention centers in California, one of which is privately run. Immigrants are often also held at local jails for the federal government, which pays to use the beds there.
Local cities, counties and law enforcement agencies that already hold immigrants for the federal government will not be able to expand their contracts or offer more space to the federal agency. In addition, jurisdictions that do not already have contracts in place will not be able to enter into one under the budget agreement.
The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency told the Los Angeles Times that it would not comment on the policy, but that it would mean the agency would have to transfer detainees out of the state. Thomas Homan, ICE’s acting director, told the U.S. House Appropriations subcommittee that those who are in the country illegally and who “committed a crime by entering this country, you should be uncomfortable, you should look over your shoulder, and you need to be worried.”
The state response was inspired by a report that found detainees held in Orange County were served spoiled food and living in inadequate conditions and the nine deaths reported at a private facility in San Bernardino.
In addition, Senator Ricardo Lara, D-Los Angeles, is pushing a bill through the legislature that would prevent cities from contracting with private detention facilities. That legislation was approved by the Senate and has gone to the Assembly.