California’s top prosecutor says detainees in federal immigration detention facilities in the state have inadequate access to health care, lawyers and family.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released a report Tuesday that also found that detainees face long periods of confinement without breaks and language barriers in the 10 detention facilities state authorities inspected in 2017.
Becerra says the state Legislature requires the California Department of Justice to inspect and report on the facilities’ conditions over the next 10 years. That law was one of three “sanctuary state” laws the Trump Administration unsuccessfully challenged in federal court.
“We’re committed to upholding the welfare of all people in California, including those in local detention facilities pending immigration proceedings,” Becerra said. “At the California Department of Justice, we will continue to review detention facilities in our state and shine much-needed light on civil detention conditions.”
Becerra says many of the problems are caused by inadequate federal oversight.
In a separate report, California’s state auditor says cities and counties failed to properly monitor the facilities in their locales.
Although immigration detainees’ experiences vary drastically within and across facilities throughout the state, DOJ found a number of common challenges, including: (The information below comes directly from the DOJ website)
• Prolonged periods of confinement without breaks, with some detainees confined in cells for up to 22 hours a day;
• Significant language barriers, compromising medical and legal confidentiality;
• Difficulties with access to medical and mental health care, increasing the risk to detainees of a major medical or mental health incident;
• Obstacles to external communication, limiting detainees’ abilities to contact family or other support systems; and
• Barriers to access to legal representation, leaving many detainees to navigate the complexities of immigration law themselves.
Information on the detainees:
- During the last three years, detention facilities in California, including those operated by local governments, have held more than 74,000 immigration detainees, including individuals as young as 13 and as old as 95, from over 150 different countries, such as Argentina, Armenia, Canada, China, Cameroon, France, Germany, Guatemala, Ghana, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Singapore.
- Detainees were held for more than 50 days on average, with the longest stay at a single facility exceeding four years
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