Report: ICE Ignoring California Ban on Private Prisons

In September, California lawmakers passed a bill to ban private prisons—including private immigration detention facilities. Unfortunately, the early indications are that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is ignoring the ban and possibly attempting to rush contracts through the system before the law can officially go into effect. According to reporting from KTLA 5, ICE is currently soliciting bids for private immigration detention center projects in California. 

Private Prisons are Set to Be Phased Out Over Nine Years

Private prisons and detention facilities are not being banned immediately. It takes awhile to safely wind down the system. Under California law, all private prisons and private immigration detention facilities will be prohibited from operating in the state beginning in 2028. However, the law starts to take effect far sooner than that. Beginning January 1st—less than two months from now—state law bans California from renewing private prison contracts or entering into any new private prison contract. The phase in provision also applies to ICE.

ICE is Actively Soliciting Offers to Build New Detention Centers in California

On October 16th, 2019, less than one week after California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill banning private prisons in the state, ICE starting seeking new offers to run, build, or renovate at least four different private detention centers in California. The solicitations were posted to the official list of Federal Business Opportunities, a database that list open government contracts. On these contracts, ICE reportedly wanted all bids by early November. The rapid deadlines suggest that the agency may be trying to fast track the projects. 

Is ICE Rushing Through the Contracting Process Before the Law Takes Effect?

It is not clear exactly how ICE plans to proceed on this issue. As the official ban on entering or renewing private prison contracts in California does not start for another two months, there are major worries that ICE is trying to rush contracts through the process before the law takes effect. Democratic legislators and immigration advocates are currently seeking answers from the agency. 

In responding to questions about the agency actively soliciting multiple bids for new contacts, California Senator Kamala Harris stated that ICE appears to be rushing contracts through the system and that the agency is “violating the spirit of California law.” Senator Harris also noted that we need to “fight back” to challenge the agency. 

Sadly, private immigration detention centers in California have a poor health and safety record. Government watchdogs have found “egregious violations” of basic health and safety standards at ICE facilities throughout California, including at the state’s largest private immigration detention centers. 

Call Our Los Angeles Immigration Attorney Now

At the Law Offices of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, our California immigration lawyers are proud to fight to protect the rights and interests of immigrations. To arrange a confidential assessment of your case, please contact us right away at (213) 262-2000. We represent immigrants in Los Angeles and throughout the area, including in Anaheim, Irvine, Beverly Hills, Oxnard, Santa Monica, and Riverside.