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Bill Aims to Increase Transparency at Migrant Detention Centers

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June 27, 2019

It is no secret that conditions in Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) migrant detention camps in California and nationally have questionable living conditions. There have been consistent reports of human rights violations in overwhelmed detention facilities. According to NBC News, there have been 24 deaths in the last two years alone in these facilities.   

Reviews of the centers conducted by the California Attorney General (AG) has shown that available information regarding the treatment of immigration detainees in California is cursory and inconsistent. 

Now, Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D – Los Angeles) is seeking to create greater transparency and ultimately safety for those in detention centers through SB 622 – Dignity in Detention. This bill would ensure there is an immediate investigation when a death occurs in civil custody in California, including immigration detention.

According to Senator Durazo, these centers – like those in Adelanto, McFarland, and Holtville – subcontract all operations of the facilities, and fail to comply with the federally-developed ICE Operations Performance-Based National Detention Standards.

Common issues among a number of facilities include  language barriers, issues with access to medical and mental health care, obstacles to contacting family and other support systems, and barriers to adequate representation.  (See related story of the Bishops pastoral visit to one of these detention facilities last year.)

SB 622 would provide a first step in creating greater transparency in these centers, and take immediate action in the event of the death of a detainee. California authorities would be mandated to investigate the death, which up to this point is handled by several different agencies, all with separate reporting requirement.

The bill has cleared the Senate side and now sits with the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Stay with us for the latest and ways you can help move this bill forward.