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The Fight Over Immigrant Detention: California Vs. ICE

The fight over immigrant detention: California vs. ICE

By: Jaclyn Fortini Laing

The California Law

Last month, California became the first state in the Union to prohibit private immigration detention centers. Private prisons are a multi-billion dollar a year industry. The problem with them is that they are prone to cost-and corner-cutting measures that often violate civil and human rights.

The new California law disallows any new contracts with private immigration detention facilities or prisons after January 1st and aims to eliminate all private immigration detention and prison facilities by 2028.

Where does ICE come in?

Immigration and Customs Enforcement – “ICE” – posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website a solicitation for four new private immigration detention facilities in California. California democrats claim that the move is an attempt by ICE to get around the California law before it comes into play on January 1st. ICE has yet to comment on the situation.

Tellingly, the ads put up by ICE insist that the detention facilities be “turnkey ready”, or that the facilities not require any work before immigrants can be detained there. The requests also closely mirror the number of beds and locations of the detention facilities whose contracts will not be renewed by California thanks to the new law.

What’s next?

Senator Kamala Harris has vowed to fight ICE’s circumvention of California’s AB 32 law, although it’s not clear how. ICE’s move isn’t necessarily illegal and currently violations need to be reported by a solicited detention center … the exact people put out of business by California’s new law. Something tells me they’re unlikely to report ICE, who may just save their businesses.

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