Today, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and Congressman Lou Correa led an additional 22 Members of the California Delegation, including U.S. Senator Alex Padilla, in sending a letter to the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urging the immediate closure of two privately owned and operated ICE detention facilities, Adelanto ICE Processing Center and Otay Mesa Detention Facility, and an end to the Intergovernmental Service Agreement (IGSA) between ICE and Yuba County Jail, the last ICE contract with a public facility in California.

Over 60 organizations across the state of California endorsed the letter, displayed in a unified message against immigration detention. The letter highlights the long record of serious abuses, mistreatment, lack of COVID-19 safety protocols, unsanitary conditions, and other disturbing deficiencies outlined in recent reports from the Office of Inspector General (OIG). Organizations thank Members of Congress for championing this issue, which is about protecting the health and safety of all California residents.

Although detention numbers in the state are currently at an all-time low, California has the fourth-largest detained population in the country. It is time for California to lead the charge to reject immigration detention nationally. Organizations across the state welcome the call to end the contracts of Yuba, Adelanto, and Otay Mesa. Yet, it is a collective realization that this is only the beginning in our fight to ensure that we are free from all cages.

ICE deprives thousands of people of liberty each day in conditions that give rise to systemic abuse and rampant medical neglect. The three detention centers which the letter signatories are calling to be closed are no exception:

  • Yuba County Jail has been operating under a court-ordered consent decree since 1979 due to numerous constitutional violations and lack of adequate care. Only one person, Ricardo, remains detained in ICE custody at the Yuba County Jail.

  • Otay Mesa was the site of the first COVID-19 related death in ICE detention in the country when Mr. Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia passed away last year. Recently the OIG issued a report outlining various violations of ICE’s own detention standards that compromised the health, safety, and rights of people in this facility.

  • The Adelanto ICE Processing Center has been reprimanded by several government oversight agencies due to their consistent violations, including the use of a harsh disinfecting chemical, HDQ Neutral, which caused serious health problems to the hundreds of immigrants who were directly sprayed with this chemical. Due to the harmful effects of HDQ Neutral, a federal judge enjoined Adelanto from continuing to use it.

Advocates call on California and its elected leaders to step up and shut down all detention centers. The congressional letter is one part of a larger call to action from community organizations to release all community members from immigration custody, and to focus on community-based care as an alternative vision to detention. Local community vigils calling for the shutdown of these three detention centers and the release of detained individuals will be held in the forthcoming weeks.

You can read a copy of the letter here.

Organizations in support:

Al Otro Lado

Alianza Sacramento

AFSC-San Diego

Asian Law Alliance

California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice

Campaign for Immigrant Detention Reform (CIDR)

Centro Legal de la Raza

Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto

Council on American-Islamic Relations – Sacramento Valley

Desert Support for Asylum Seekers

Dolores Street Community Services

Education and Leadership Foundation

Espacio Migrante

Faithful Friends

Immigrant Defense Advocates

Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Kern Welcoming and Extending Solidarity to Immigrants

Law Office of Helen Lawrence

Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition

Multicultural Center of Marin (MCM)

National Immigration Law Center

NorCal Resist

North Bay Rapid Response Network: Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties

Orange County Rapid Response Network (OCRRN)

Pangea Legal Services

Rapid Response Network of Kern

Santa Cruz Welcoming Network

SB County Immigrant Legal Defense Center

SIREN (Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network)

South Bay People Power

STEP UP! Sacramento

Ventura County Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE-VC)

VIDAS Legal Services (North Bay)

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