Freedom for Immigrants Calls For A Just and Proper Closure After OC Sheriff Announces End of ICE Contract


MEDIA CONTACT: Liz Martinez,


LOS ANGELES — This week the Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced it was ending its agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold immigrants at the Theo Lacy Facility and James A. Musick Facility.

“For years, have documented and exposed the deplorable conditions that immigrants were subjected to at Theo Lacy and James Musick, including physical assault and the overuse of solitary confinement,” said Christina Fialho, co-founder/executive director of Freedom for Immigrants (formerly CIVIC). “While the move to end the contract is the right decision, we are disappointed that advocacy groups and community leaders were not consulted in advance to figure out the best way to terminate the contract. In addition, this decision doesn’t excuse the Orange County Sheriff’s Department from the horrible mistreatment of immigrants in its custody. There needs to be accountability.”

As a result of this sudden move, the Sheriff has a responsibility to ensure a just and proper closure of the facility. A proper closure would ensure due process, access to counsel and the release of currently detained individuals so they can continue their cases on the outside through the help of community-based alternatives to detention within the next 120 days, before the contract ends. ICE has prosecutorial discretion to release every person in its custody.

Freedom for Immigrants has been advocating for immigrants in the two facilities for years. In 2015, we filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of the Inspector General and the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties detailing multiple incidents of physical assault and other human rights violations at Theo Lacy.

Earlier this year, the state Attorney General’s recent detention conditions report confirmed many of our findings, documenting the misuse of solitary confinement, misconduct by prison officials, and use of force among a myriad of other problems at Theo Lacy.

“I want to thank all of the organizations who worked to support this cause,” said Veronica Aguilar, who was detained at the James Musick Facility. “I hope that one day these places no longer exist. All they do is oppress and repress our freedom. As immigrants, we come for a better life. In these jails, there is so much mistreatment of immigrants. I hope that soon ICE detention no longer exists in this country. I hope that one day there will be a humane alternative to support us immigrants.”

Over the past two years, we have witnessed the abolition of ICE detention in real-time throughout California, starting with the Santa Ana City Jail in 2017, followed by the end of the ICE agreement between Sacramento County and ICE at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center in June 2018 and then the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office termination of the ICE agreement at West County Detention Facility a month later.

Together the Dignity Not Detention Act (SB 29) and AB 103, legislation Freedom for Immigrants consulted on, have frozen the expansion of ICE prisons and jails in California. But states can only do so much. We need federal legislation like the Detention Oversight Not Expansion (DONE) Act that puts a moratorium on the expansion of ICE prisons and jails nationwide.