Statement on Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office's Tentative Agreement to Reinstate Our Visitation Program at West County Detention Facility

“On May 7, 2018, over two months after the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office (CCCSO) banned Freedom for Immigrants (formerly CIVIC) volunteers from visiting people in Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention at West County Detention Facility (WCDF) and shut down our free and unmonitored hotline, the CCCSO has tentatively agreed to reinstate our visitation clearance upon completion of a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA).

Unfortunately, the CCCSO will not meet with us until June to finalize the terms of the MoA, which means that over three months will have passed before our volunteers are able to return to fully support the people inside detention at WCDF.  We are especially concerned given that this past month, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued Department of Justice directives that pressure immigration judges to process cases faster. Especially for the unrepresented people in ICE detention at WCDF that rely on our volunteers' support, it is critical that we are able to return to visitation with them as soon as possible.  We have already noted negative outcomes for people's cases and morales during the past two months of our volunteers not being able to offer our material assistance and emotional support through visitation and our hotline.

As we work to draft and finalize this MoA, we will not compromise our values or in any way reduce the level of our support to people in ICE detention at WCDF. It is critical that the final MoA explicitly permits Freedom for Immigrants to continue our long-standing work of supporting the people inside, their families, and their loved ones, while also exercising our First Amendment rights by monitoring and reporting on the facility’s conditions.  

We will not alter our mission as a nationwide network devoted to abolishing immigration detention while ending the isolation of people currently suffering in this profit-driven system.”

-Rebecca Merton, National Visitation Program Coordinator, Freedom for Immigrants