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href="https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/ICE-detention-California-finds-poor-conditions-13647315.php?t=8217746c45&ipid=sfgatehp">https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/ICE-detention-California-finds-poor-conditions-13647315.php?t=8217746c45&ipid=sfgatehp</a></font>
        <h1 class="reader-title">ICE detention: California finds poor
          conditions in immigrant holding centers</h1>
        <div class="credits reader-credits">By Tatiana Sanchez</div>
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              <p><span><b><time itemprop="datePublished"
                      datetime="2019-02-27T03:32:10Z">February 26, 2019
                    </time></b> </span>
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              <p>Many immigrants held in federally overseen detention
                centers in California are confined in their cells for up
                to 22 hours a day, have trouble accessing medical and
                mental health care and face significant barriers in
                obtaining translators and lawyers, the state attorney
                general’s office said Tuesday.</p>
              <p>“Transparency is essential as we make sure immigrants
                are afforded the treatment that any of us would expect
                under the law. Today we get to shine light on these
                conditions,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra, whose
                office was tasked under a 2017 state law with assessing
                conditions and care at 10 centers in California where
                the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency
                detains people who have pending immigration cases.</p>
              <p>Becerra’s investigators spent several days at three
                public detention centers, inspecting conditions and
                talking to staff and inmates. They made one-day visits
                to the seven other facilities, ultimately interviewing
                more than 100 immigrants to evaluate all aspects of
                their detention, from food and hygiene to discipline and
                access to legal materials.</p>
              <p>An estimated 396,500 people were booked into ICE
                custody nationwide in fiscal 2018, up from 323,600 the
                year before, according to the report. Detention
                facilities in California have housed an estimated 74,000
                immigrants in the past three years.</p>
              <p>ICE said it is committed to “providing for the welfare
                of all those entrusted to its custody” and “ensuring all
                detainees are treated in a humane and professional
                manner.”</p>
              <p>“All facilities that house ICE detainees must meet
                rigorous performance standards, which specify detailed
                requirements for virtually every facet of the detention
                environment,” the agency said in a statement. “The
                safety, rights and health of detainees in ICE’s care are
                of paramount concern and all ICE detention facilities
                are subject to stringent, regular inspections.”</p>
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              <p>The state report said many detainees experienced:</p>
              <p>• Prolonged periods of confinement without breaks. Some
                detainees were held in their cells for up to 22 hours a
                day, being let out only to do such things as call family
                members, take part in recreational activities or use the
                restroom.</p>
              <p>• Significant language barriers and inadequate access
                to translators or interpreters, which often compromised
                inmates’ medical and legal confidentiality.</p>
              <p>• Inability to receive medical and mental health
                services. Some detention centers had nurses practicing
                outside their legal scope of practice, as well as
                inadequate medical examinations and a shortage of mental
                health staff.</p>
              <p>• Obstacles contacting relatives and support services
                outside the centers.</p>
              <p>• Barriers to accessing legal representation, often
                leaving detainees to navigate the immigration system on
                their own.</p>
              <p>In some cases, ICE arranges with local jurisdictions
                for immigrant detainees to be housed in county jails.
                Other detention facilities are privately run by
                corporations that have contracts with ICE. Officials at
                privately run facilities were less cooperative and in
                some cases limited investigators’ access to staff and
                detainees, the state report said.</p>
              <p>One of the centers that investigators assessed was the
                West County Detention Facility in Richmond, run by the
                Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office. Over several days
                in August, Becerra’s report said, investigators found
                evidence “at least partially supporting” <a
href="https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/Deportation-chosen-over-Richmond-jail-complaints-12324755.php">Chronicle
                  reports</a> starting in November 2017 in which female
                detainees said they were mistreated, including being
                subjected to excessive lockdowns that forced some women
                to defecate and urinate in biohazard bags inside their
                cells.</p>
              <p>The county ended its contract with ICE last year.</p>
              <p>“On some level the abuses are nothing new,” said Grisel
                Ruiz, an attorney with the Immigrant Legal Resource
                Center in San Francisco. “But the documentation — having
                the state do oversight — that is certainly new.</p>
              <p>“Now that our eyes are open to these abuses, it really
                is incumbent upon elected officials and policymakers to
                enact change.”</p>
              <p>California is the first state to conduct an in-depth
                inspection of the detention centers, Becerra said. The
                centers have been the focal point of heated debate in
                recent years, particularly as the Trump administration
                has cracked down on illegal immigration and the number
                of detained immigrants across the United States has
                soared.</p>
              <p>“We hope that other states are watching,” Becerra said
                at a news conference in San Francisco. “Because everyone
                in this country has constitutional rights, and everyone
                at the end of the day — child and adult — deserves to be
                treated in a humane way.”</p>
              <p>Becerra blamed federal immigration authorities in part
                for not monitoring the detention centers, though he said
                several of the facilities have already implemented
                changes based on his office’s review.</p>
              <p>For example, the Yolo County Detention Center in
                Woodland, run by the county juvenile probation
                department, hired more mental health staffers and beefed
                up staff training, Becerra said. It is also working with
                its medical contractor to improve health care, the
                attorney general said.</p>
              <p>Another report, <a
                  href="https://www.bsa.ca.gov/pdfs/factsheets/2018-117.pdf">released
                  Tuesday by the state auditor, blamed</a> local
                jurisdictions for not properly managing their contracts
                with corporations to ensure they comply with ICE
                detention standards.</p>
              <p>The 2017 state law that led to the attorney general’s
                investigation requires the state Justice Department to
                monitor detention centers for 10 years. Last year, the
                Trump administration asked a federal judge to block
                state investigators from entering the centers, saying
                California was interfering with immigration law
                enforcement.</p>
              <p>U.S. District Judge John Mendez in Sacramento rejected
                the administration’s request for a temporary injunction
                in July, allowing Becerra’s staff to continue its work.</p>
              <p><em></em></p>
              <p><em>Tatiana Sanchez is a San Francisco Chronicle staff
                  writer. Email: <a
                    href="mailto:Tatiana.sanchez@sfchronicle.com">Tatiana.sanchez@sfchronicle.com</a>.
                  Twitter: <a
                    href="https://twitter.com/TatianaYSanchez">@TatianaYSanchez</a></em></p>
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