Immigration Detention in California [Fact Sheet]

By Ruthie Epstein

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California by the Numbers

  • Detained immigrants held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in facilities in California: 3,850 (11% of the total population detained by ICE).
  • Detained immigrants held by ICE in California county jails: 2,800.
  • Detained immigrants held by ICE in remote facilities in California: 1,700.

ICE Facilities in California

  • One ICE-run Service Processing Center, El Centro, holds 400 immigrants, 113 miles east of San Diego.
  • One ICE-only Contract Detention Facility in San Diego (known as Otay Mesa) is run by a private prison company and holds 650 immigrants.
  • Nine jails runs by counties or private prison companies hold the remaining 2,800 immigrants detained by ICE in California. The largest of these jails are Mira Loma (Los Angeles County), Adelanto (San Bernadino County), and Theo Lacy (Orange County), all in southern California. They also include James Musick and Santa Ana (Orange County), Yuba County, Sacramento County, California City (Kern County), and Contra Costa County Jail West.

The Facts

  • ICE holds the overwhelming majority of the 429,000 asylum seekers and other immigrants it detains annually – under civil immigration law authority – in jails and jail-like facilities.
  • ICE has 33,400 detention beds in about 250 facilities across the country.
  • Arriving asylum seekers and many other immigrants are detained without access to individual court review of their detention.
  • ICE spends $2 billion per year on detention – 28 times its budget for alternatives to detention.
  • Detention costs taxpayers $164 per day. Alternatives cost taxpayers 30 cents to $14 per day.
  • Immigrants in removal proceedings do not receive government-funded counsel. Immigration detention creates a tremendous barrier to accessing legal representation. 40% of ICE’s detention beds are in remote locations.
  • Highly regarded Legal Orientation Presentations reach just 15% of detained immigrants and 35% of detained immigrants in removal proceedings annually.
  • Non-profit legal services providers – like Public Counsel Law Center, Catholic Charities Los Angeles Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project, and the ABA Immigration Justice Project in San Diego – are under-resourced to meet the need.

Published on September 19, 2012


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