Attorney General Becerra releases first report on immigration detention facilities in California

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced the release of a California Department of Justice (DOJ) report on immigration detention facilities in the state. The report is the result of Assembly Bill 103, which passed in 2017, requiring the DOJ, over a 10-year period, to report on: conditions of confinement; the standard of care and due process provided to detainees; and the circumstances around the apprehension and transfer of detainees to facilities. This initial report is intended to provide increased transparency around immigration detention facilities in California. The report is an important step forward in understanding the conditions under which civil immigration detainees are living, including their access to critical health and legal resources.

“We’re committed to upholding the welfare of all people in California, including those in local detention facilities pending immigration proceedings,” said Attorney General Becerra. “At the California Department of Justice, we will continue to review detention facilities in our state and shine much-needed light on civil detention conditions.”

Although immigration detainees’ experiences vary drastically within and across facilities throughout the state, DOJ found a number of common challenges, including:

  • Prolonged periods of confinement without breaks, with some detainees confined in cells for up to 22 hours a day;
  • Significant language barriers, compromising medical and legal confidentiality;
  • Difficulties with access to medical and mental health care, increasing the risk to detainees of a major medical or mental health incident;
  • Obstacles to external communication, limiting detainees’ abilities to contact family or other support systems; and
  • Barriers to access to legal representation, leaving many detainees to navigate the complexities of immigration law themselves.

During the last three years, detention facilities in California, including those operated by local governments, have held more than 74,000 immigration detainees, including individuals as young as 13 and as old as 95, from over 150 different countries, such as Argentina, Armenia, Canada, China, Cameroon, France, Germany, Guatemala, Ghana, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Singapore. Detainees were held for more than 50 days on average, with the longest stay at a single facility exceeding four years.

Immigration detention facility review by DOJ is ongoing. For this report, DOJ conducted one-day visits to all 10 civil immigration detention facilities in the state that were operating when AB 103 became law. DOJ comprehensively reviewed three public facilities: Yolo County Juvenile Detention Facility, Theo Lacy Facility in Orange County, and West County Detention Facility in Contra Costa County.

The full report is available here.

This article was released by the Office of the California Attorney General.