Opposition to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is growing. As several politicians call to abolish the 15-year-old agency – which has used unethical, manipulative tactics to deport people – several cities have also decided to end their contracts with ICE. In Contra Costa County, activists succeeding in getting ICE out.
Sheriff David Livingston has asked ICE to begin the process of removing undocumented immigrants from the West County Detention Facility in Richmond, California. It is now the third area in California to end its contract with ICE, according to the Los Angeles Time. Livingston said the decision to end the contract, which began in 2009, is because it’s not financially sustainable and because of increased scrutiny. For months, demonstrators showed up to protest the jail, which holds about 200 undocumented immigrants a day. One protest even attracted more than 1,000 people.
“Managing protests in Richmond [has] become expensive and time-consuming for our staff,” he said. “And to be very fair, one must acknowledge a growing chorus of community groups and individuals, from both within and outside the county, that have focused on undocumented immigrants’ issues. And they raise important concerns.”
While ICE says this means that detainees will now be further away from their families, “reducing the opportunities for in-person family visitation and attorney coordination.” But a staff attorney with Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus said that ICE can do something to help families. “ICE is acting as if their hands are tied,” she said. “It’s truly on them for detaining people in the first place.”
Hussain and other immigrant advocates are putting pressure on ICE to release the immigrants house at West County Detention Facility and asking Livingston to increase visitation hours. People have also begun fundraising for those detained in Richmond. “While we are fighting for a just and responsible closure of the immigration wing — meaning fighting for everyone detained in West County Detention Facility to be released — hundreds of people detained there need your help today to reunite with their families,” the Freedom for Immigrants website reads. “This community fund will go directly to pay for bonds and assist with family expenses, including necessities like rent, transportation to the detention facility, and costs for phone calls with loved ones who are detained. By raising money to help post bonds for those who cannot otherwise afford it, people who are detained will have the opportunity to reunite with their families and to fight their deportation cases with legal representation.”
Correction, July 16, 2018 at 2 p.m. ET: An earlier version of this piece incorrectly identified the organization as Asian Americans Advancing Justice.