City of Adelanto Terminates ICE Contract with Largest Immigration Prison in California: Legal Advocates Demand the Immediate Release and Reunification of All Detained Immigrants with their Families and Communities
“Our lives don't matter to them. We could die in here and there's nothing we can do." – Miguel Angel, immigrant detainee
“I condemn ICE’s programs and the way they work trying to squeeze money out of detained immigrants and their family members. That’s inhumane, really inhumane.” – Walter, brother of an immigrant detainee
On Friday, March 29, 2019, the Adelanto City Council announced the termination of its immigration prison contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the private multi-billion-dollar corporation, GEO Group, that oversees the largest immigration prison in California. The announcement comes after hunger strikes by immigrants, lawsuits, and a report by the California Attorney General exposed the inhumane conditions inside the Adelanto Detention Facility, involving medical neglect, sexual assault, and the deaths of multiple immigrants. Adelanto’s termination was preceded by a series of other cities ending their contracts with ICE and private corporations in California:
Orange County ended its contract with ICE at two local jails in the last week
The City of McFarland ended its contract with ICE at Mesa Verde Detention Center (operated by GEO Group) in Bakersfield in 2018
Contra Costa County ended its contract with ICE at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond in 2018
Sacramento County ended its contract with ICE at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center in Elk Grove 2018
Santa Ana ended its contract with ICE in 2016
Pangea Legal Services and our clients continue to expose the abuse of immigrants in GEO and other private prison facilities. “We want the immediate release of all GEO detainees at Adelanto and reunification with their families and loved ones,” said Jehan Laner Romero, Director of Advocacy at Pangea Legal Services. “Immigration is a civil matter and people do not need to be detained to pursue their cases; their detention is inhumane,” she stated.
One Pangea client, Miguel Angel, stated that for-profit detention centers put immigrant lives at risk: “It's because our lives don't matter to them. We could die in here and there's nothing we can do."
In 2017, the California legislature passed SB 29, the Dignity Not Detention Act, which aimed to halt the growth of private, for-profit immigration prison facilities in the state of California. This law was passed along with AB 103, which prevents public jails from entering into new contracts with ICE or expanding or modifying existing contracts.
With fewer operational detention centers in California, private corporations like GEO Group and CoreCivic (formerly known as “Correction Corporation of America”) are now beginning to sign direct contracts with ICE, circumventing California’s policies that aim to end the for-profit detention of immigrants. “I condemn ICE’s programs and the way they work trying to squeeze money out of detained immigrants and their family members. That’s inhumane, really inhumane,” said Walter, the brother of an immigrant detainee at a GEO prison. “For ICE to argue that they are keeping people in there for that long for any other reason doesn’t make sense to me. They just want to make money out of our families,” he said.
Together with our clients and those directly impacted by immigration detention, Pangea calls for a complete closure of all immigrant prison facilities in California and an end to the practice of imprisoning immigrants nationwide. We call for grassroots campaigns demanding just closures and the release of all immigrants to their loved ones and communities.