Freedom for Immigrants uses a wide range of advocacy tools, including community organizing, coalition building, and legislative advocacy, to fight for a country without immigration detention.
California is ground zero for the fight to end immigration detention.
Freedom for Immigrants, formerly CIVIC, helped draft and co-sponsor two key legislative measures in the state that together significantly impact immigrant prisons.
In 2017, Freedom for Immigrants (formerly CIVIC) and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center consulted on and heavily advocated for an amendment in California’s budget (AB 103).
Gov. Jerry Brown signed this budget action into law in June 2017, and California became the first state in the country to put a moratorium on all new contracts between California municipalities and ICE for immigration detention expansion for the next 10 years.
The budget action also gave the state Attorney General the power and resources to monitor all public and private immigration detention facilities in California.
And it prohibited local immigrant jails that provide in-person visitation as of January 1, 2018 from converting to video-only visitation. The bill also prohibited a local immigrant jails from charging for visitation when visitors are onsite.
DIGNITY NOT DETENTION ACT
In addition, Freedom for Immigrants drafted and co-sponsored the Dignity Not Detention Act (SB 29), which Gov. Brown signed into law in California in October 2017. This law effectively freezes the growth of for-profit immigrant prisons in the state of California.
The bill also prohibits cities and counties from entering into new, or modifying existing, contracts with private prison companies with the purpose of expanding immigration detention.
And it makes California the first state in the country to require private immigrant prisons and jails to comply with open record laws.
Your state can be next! Check out our Guide to Dignity Not Detention in Your State.
Here is a list of states that have introduced legislation to curb immigration detention.
ON THE NATIONAL LEVEL
Building off of the momentum in California, we wrote a federal budget amendment, introduced by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), to stop immigrant detention expansion nationwide.
The amendment was heard on the House floor in 2017 and 180 Democrats voted in favor with only 5 Democrats opposing!
We also are co-sponsors of a new bill introduced in October 2017 in the House and reintroduced in 2019 called the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, which builds upon our achievements in California.
We also helped draft the Detention Oversight Not Expansion (DONE) Act, a bicameral bill first introduced in May 2018 and reintroduced in July 2019 by Sen. Kamala Harris (CA) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA) that would prohibit the expansion of immigration detention and improve oversight of these facilities.
Learn more about the DONE Act.
Right to In-Person Visitation: Freedom for Immigrants advocated and co-sponsored legislation to ensure that county jails could not move toward video-only visitation. The bill ultimately was signed into law as a rider to the California state budget in 2017.
Right to Reasonable Phone Call Rates: Freedom for Immigrants provided testimony and heavily advocated the Federal Communications Commission to create a rule to lower phone call rates from immigrant prisons and jail. In 2015, the FCC created a rate cap for all interstate phone calls. We continue to advocate for intrastate rate caps.
Right to Detention Inspection Tours: Freedom for Immigrants worked with allied organization to urge ICE to create the Stakeholder Visitation Directive, which allows groups to request a tour of an immigrant prison or jail and conduct interviews with people who sign up.
You can join our policy advocacy efforts!
To join our legislative movement for Dignity Not Detention in your state, email Rebekah Entralgo at firstname.lastname@example.org