California Department of Justice Report on Immigration Detention Documents Concerning Conditions and Due Process Impediments
Los Angeles, California—Human Rights First today praised release of a California Department of Justice (DOJ) report on immigration detention facilities in the state as an important step in providing increased transparency. This initial report follows visits by DOJ investigators to ten California detention centers.
The report’s findings mirror those of Human Rights First’s January 2019 report Prisons and Punishment: Immigration Detention in California, and include: significant language barriers; limited access to medical and mental health care; and numerous barriers to securing legal representation.
“This important report shines a light on the treatment of immigrants in detention, who are placed in what are essentially prisons, and left to defend themselves in a complex legal system often without a lawyer. These challenges, combined with poor healthcare and conditions, worsen the trauma of those who came to the United States fleeing torture and trauma” said Human Rights First’s Robyn Barnard, author of Prisons and Punishment.
Today’s report is the result of Assembly Bill 103, which passed in 2017, requiring the DOJ, over a 10-year period, to report on the conditions of confinement and the standard of care and due process provided to individuals in detention. Attorney General Becerra said of the report “[w]e’re committed to upholding the welfare of all people in California, including those in local detention facilities pending immigration proceedings.” California detains the second highest number of immigrants in the country and is home to the “deadliest” detention center in the nation.
Importantly, California investigators found that the majority of those in immigration detention are confined not because they pose a flight risk or danger to the community, but because they either cannot afford the bond set in their case or they have no right to release, as is the case for most recently arrived asylum seekers. Human Rights First report on California immigration detention highlights the arbitrary and unnecessary prolonged detention of asylum seekers and other vulnerable immigrants caused by unaffordable bonds and Department of Homeland Security denying parole to asylum seekers.
“This investigation and report highlight the massive overuse of detention by the Trump Administration and the related due process and human rights abuses that impact vulnerable immigrants,” added Barnard. “In a moment when President Trump is requesting additional funds from Congress to detain even more individuals, congressional and California state leaders must continue to hold the administration accountable for its mistreatment of individuals in detention, and push for the implementation of more humane, and proven cost-effective, alternatives to detention.”