SACRAMENTO, CA — Immigrant rights advocates, lawmakers, community and faith leaders, and attorneys will gather at the California State Capitol to defend immigrant rights in response to the Trump administration’s lawsuit against the state.
Today is the first hearing in United States v. California, the lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice over three California state laws that provide protections for immigrants. These laws include: the California Values Act (SB 54), Immigrant Worker Protection Act (AB 450), and a budget amendment that created formal oversight of immigrant prisons and jails (AB 103).
In mid-May, Freedom for Immigrants (formerly CIVIC), the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and Human Rights Watch filed an amicus brief in a federal district court in support of AB 103, the state budget amendment that went into effect in June of 2017.
The first-of-its-kind measure puts a moratorium on all new contracts between California municipalities and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, prohibiting the the expansion of immigration detention facilities for the next 10 years. It also gives the state attorney general the power and resources, including $10 million over 10 years, to monitor conditions and due process in immigrant jails and prisons.
The federal lawsuit targets the oversight portion of the law.
“This baseless, specious lawsuit violates the right that California has to ensure transparency, accountability, and responsibility for the immigration jails housed within the state,” said Grisel Ruiz, staff attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, a non-profit that advocates for immigrant rights. “California’s efforts to protect immigrants and their families should be applauded, not under attack from the federal government. We know that the abuses carried out by Customs and Border Patrol and ICE in these facilities should not be beyond the reach of the law, and California’s leadership on this issue should set an example for states hoping to protect immigrant families from even more trauma.”
Advocates have long documented serious abuses inside California’s detention facilities. For example, at Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego and Adelanto Detention Facility in Adelanto, there have been a total of 18 deaths combined. According to government data, Otay and Adelanto are also among the top 5 worst detention facilities in the country in regards to sexual assault complaints.
“The California immigration detention system is a hotbed of abuse and mismanagement. Without independent oversight, these immigrant jails and prisons will continue to operate with impunity,” said Christina Fialho, an attorney and the co-founder/executive director of Freedom for Immigrants, a non-profit working to abolish immigration detention. “This is not the time to be diminishing access to these prisons and jails. If anything, with this lawsuit, we should be asking ourselves, what is the federal government trying to hide?”