Boy detained in a private immigrant detention center.

California’s Ban on Private Immigrant Detention Centers

  • Feb 21 2020

Tens of thousands of immigrants are held in private immigrant detention centers by the U.S. government each year. The centers are controlled by both Customs and Border Protection as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Within ICE, the Office of Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) is tasked with overseeing the detention and deportation of those immigrants who are taken into custody by ICE. Immigrants are detained in these facilities for several reasons. The immigrant may be detained for unlawfully entering the U.S. An immigrant may also be detained when in the process of deportation and removal from the country. 

Those supporting pro-immigration legislation and community outreach have strenuously criticized the immigrant detention centers run by private prison companies. The activists assert that those being held in these facilities are provided substandard medical care and unsafe conditions as shown by documented safety violations. It is because of things like this that California chose to ban private immigrant detention centers.

What Does This New Law Involve?

Signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom in October of 2019, California’s law banning the use of private, for-profit prisons and immigrant detention centers in the state became effective on January 1, 2020. More specifically, the new law bans the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from entering into or renewing contracts with private companies tasked with running state prison and detention facilities. By the year 2028, California is looking to completely ban anyone from being incarcerated in privately run facilities. The ban as it stands now does not apply to those privately owned prisons that are operated and staffed by employees of the state corrections agency.

In a statement made about the new law, Governor Newsome asserted that these private prisons and detention centers were enabling over-incarceration in the estate. Supporters of the measures put in place by the new law proclaim that these private institutions put money over people. They are out to maximize shareholder profits and thus fail in things like providing adequate healthcare, ensuring safe conditions, and providing proper oversight. Additionally, advocates of the elimination of private prisons in California state that the private prisons do nothing to incentivize the rehabilitation of inmates and only work to contribute to mass incarceration in the state by providing a cheap option for imprisonment.

On the other side of things is ICE, which stands to lose four privately run detention facilities in the state. These facilities currently house about 4,000 people. ICE has already stated that, should the California ban stand, it will simply be forced to transfer those housed in the private detention facilities in the state to somewhere outside of California. This would essentially force family and friends of those incarcerated in the California facilities to travel farther to visit those loved ones being detained.

GEO Group, a private corrections corporation, filed a lawsuit in December seeking to challenge the new California law. GEO group asserts that the law undermines and seeks to eliminate federal criminal and immigration law that is both funded and approved by Congress. The lawsuit requests that the state be forbidden from enforcing the new law.

Immigration Attorney

Immigration law is at the forefront of so many recent news stories. The laws seem to be constantly changing. For all of your questions or concerns regarding the state of immigration law in the U.S. and how it may affect you or your loved ones, Talamantes Immigration Law Firm is here to help. Contact Talamantes Immigration Law Firm today.

Posted in: Immigration Law