Sen. Harris & Rep. Jayapal Introduce Bill to Halt the Expansion of Immigration Detention

Today, California Senator Kamala Harris and Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington introduced the Detention Oversight Not Expansion (DONE) Act, a bicameral bill that would prohibit the expansion of immigration detention and improve oversight of these facilities.

“A federal moratorium is just common sense,” said Christina Fialho, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Freedom for Immigrants (formerly CIVIC). “We cannot continue using taxpayer dollars to expand a system that lacks adequate oversight and is rife with inhumane conditions.”  

The proposed measures build upon Freedom for Immigrants’ groundbreaking policy work in California. We co-sponsored the Dignity Not Detention Act, which froze the growth of private, for-profit prisons, as well as budget amendment AB 103, which put a 10-year moratorium on the expansion of county-run immigration detention facilities.

“Through our network of visitation programs and hotline, we’ve documented a range of abuses at the hands of the government, from sexual assault to forced labor to medical neglect,” said Fialho. “Human rights abuses have become the status quo in our massive immigration detention system. It is outright unconscionable.”

The bill, along with prohibiting the expansion and construction of new immigrant jail cells, would increase funding to federal oversight bodies to investigate, report and make all human and civil rights complaints public.

It also will require the Department of Homeland Security to submit to Congress within one year a plan on (1) how the number of immigration detention beds will be decreased by 50 percent within a reasonable time period, and (2) how to implement community-based alternatives to detention.  

States alone cannot change this massive system. It’s time for the federal government to step in and demand transparency and accountability.

Freedom for Immigrants helped draft the DONE Act and is an official endorser.