Reps. Grijalva and Chu Call for Investigation on Sexual Assaults in ICE Facilities

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Grijalva released the following statement after he and Rep. Judy Chu led 71 Members of Congress in sending a letter to top Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) officials demanding increased accountability and transparency over claims of sexual assault, abuse, and harassment within immigrant detention facilities. The letter comes in response to a complaint filed by Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) which highlights the prevalence of sexual misconduct and the lack of recourse for victims within immigrant detention facilities.  

In the letter, the lawmakers highlight the fact that, “The Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Homeland Security received a total of 33,126 complaints of sexual and/or physical abuse against DHS component agencies between January 2010 and July 2016, according to CIVIC’s complaint. Of the 33,126 complaints of sexual and/or physical abuse, the DHS-OIG opened investigations into only 225 of them, or 0.07%.”

Full statements are below:

“DHS and its partner agencies must be held accountable for rampant complaints of sexual assault, abuse and harassment within their immigrant detention facilities,” Rep Grijalva said. “Many of those being held have fled violence, have been victims of rape, or were otherwise subject to traumatic events. For DHS to carelessly dismiss, ignore, or even try to erase such serious claims is not only unconscionable but also unlawful under existing PREA protections. We have both a moral and legal obligation to prevent sexual misconduct from happening in detention centers, and further must ensure that victims have a path to legal recourse when incidents do occur.”

“Even more alarming are efforts undertaken to destroy records related to sexual assault in immigrant detention centers. If this were any other federal agency, there would be an outpouring of public demands for greater transparency and accountability. However, because we are dealing with victims who are always in the shadows, far away from their families and outside of the public eye, we are seeing a coordinated attempt to eliminate any evidence of wrongdoing. I strongly urge DHS and DOJ leadership to act swiftly to conduct comprehensive investigations of sexual assault in immigrant detention facilities, and for ICE to withdraw its petition to permanently destroy all records pertaining to sexual assault claims.” 

“Immigrants are among the most vulnerable people – many of whom are children away from their families,” said Rep. Chu. “And being detained puts them completely at the mercy of others, who sometimes abuse that power in unscrupulous ways as we have too often seen over the years. That anybody should experience sexual assault, but especially anybody in these terrible conditions, is absolutely unacceptable. There are already myriad problems with immigrant detention facilities and the entire policy of treating immigrants as prisoners, but the threat of sexual assault should not be among it. We need an investigation, more oversight, and reform to ensure that we are protecting those in our care.”

“Homeland Security has established a zero tolerance policy for sexual assault, but this policy is not properly enforced,” said Christina Fialho, an attorney and the co-founder/executive director of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC). “In fact, to our knowledge, nothing has been done to curb sexual abuse at ICE facilities since we filed our civil rights complaint in April. Instead, ICE has petitioned the National Archives to trash its records of sexual assault. Through its attempt to destroy evidence of wrongdoing, ICE is sending a message that perpetrators of sexual abuse of immigrants will be protected. We cannot allow ICE to operate with impunity behind closed doors.”

Full text of the letter can be found here.

New Government Report Finds Widespread Abuse At Immigrant Detention Centers Across The Country

Washington, DC — A new report released today by the Office of Inspector General (OIG), Concerns about ICE Detainee Treatment and Care at Detention Facilities, supports longstanding concerns and documentation from immigrant rights advocates about egregious conditions, abusive treatment and abysmal mismanagement at immigrant detention centers across the country. The report comes as Trump calls for a massive cut in the OIG budget in an attempt to further embolden Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to act with impunity, erase measures of accountability and obscure any existing transparency.

The report inspected and found serious deficiencies at the following facilities: Santa Ana City Jail in California, Hudson Detention Center in New Jersey, Stewart Detention Center in Georgia and Otero Detention Center in New Mexico.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Medical staff not using available interpretation services during medical exams at multiple facilities (not specified) jeopardizing the health of detained individuals who aren’t not able to provide their medical history or fully explain their symptoms or concerns without interpretation. Inspectors also uncovered concerning delays in medical care at Stewart, Santa Ana and Hudson.
  • Serious problems with the grievance procedure. At multiple facilities (not specified), detained individuals reported that “staff obstructed or delayed their grievances or intimidated them, through fear of retaliation, into not complaining.” At Stewart, review of a sample of grievances found that “[m]any serious complaints from the sample at this facility included only cursory and uninformative explanations of the resolution.”
  • Lack phone access as required. At Otero, inspectors found broken phones. At Stewart, the OIG complaint hotline was improperly restricted.  
  • Abusive and disrespectful treatment. Detained people at all four facilities reported improper and disrespectful treatment. At Santa Ana, video corroborated allegations that a guard yelled at and inappropriately threatened detained people.
  • Abusive use of solitary confinement was documented at Stewart, Santa Ana and Otero.
  • Improper strip searches at the Santa Ana Jail.

“The realities documented by the OIG inspectors, and many more, are endemic to the entire detention system,” said Mary Small, policy director at Detention Watch Network. “The findings of the report support our ongoing call to immediately release people from detention, as ICE has proven time and time again to be incapable of meeting basic standards for humane treatment. Furthermore, the report is particularly timely as Congress continues to stall budget decisions for fiscal year 2018,” Small added. “Our elected officials must stand with immigrant communities. It’s time to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on the abusive and deadly immigration enforcement system; the lives of our loved ones and our collective future are at stake.”

Immigrant rights advocates working on the inspected facilities offered the following statements:

Azadeh Shahshahani, Project South: “As our year-long documentation showed, Stewart is rife with abuse and should have shut down long ago. Some examples of human rights violations include: exploitation of immigrant labor for operation of the facility, reports of maggots being found in the food, and responding to hunger strikes with threats of force-feeding. The May 2017 death of 27-year-old Jean-Carlos Jimenez-Joseph who was held in solitary for 19 days should have served as a final wake-up call and resulted in the immediate closure of the facility. We hope that the Georgia Congressional delegation will take action on the letter signed by 70 Georgia and national organizations and investigate this facility.”

Christina Fialho, Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC): “Although the Santa Ana City Jail is no longer a contracted immigrant jail, it still holds hundreds of human beings inside deplorable conditions where people are subjected to strip searches that often occur under unsanitary conditions and sometimes in full view of other people. The City of Santa Ana has an obligation to its residents to close this jail and begin to heal its community,” said Christina Fialho, an attorney and the co-founder/executive director of CIVIC, which filed a federal civil rights complaint against the Santa Ana City Jail about unlawful strip searches nearly two years ago. Fialho added, “We have filed countless complaints against ICE over the years regarding inadequate medical care at Hudson, a pattern or practice of sexual violence throughout the system, physical abuse at various immigration prisons, and more. But rather than addressing our concerns, ICE has adopted a head-in-the-sand approach, denying that any problems exist. The OIG report is only the tip of the iceberg; imagine the widespread abuse we would find if all 210 immigrant prisons were reviewed. A starting point in tackling this culture of impunity is greater transparency from our government institutions.

Marcela Hernandez, Organizer, Immigrant Youth Coalition: “In our weekly visits to Santa Ana Jail’s trans pod, we documented multiple abuses such as the women being kept in their cells for more than 20 hours a day and violent verbal, emotional and physical abuse. There was also a huge lack of adequate medical attention to the point that one of the women collapsed, was taken to the local hospital and was in a coma for weeks. She wasn’t allowed to finish her rehabilitation and was taken back to Santa Ana Jail where her health continue to deteriorate instead of getting better. For these reasons we continue to support the fight against trans detention and all immigrant detentions.”

Lourdes Ortiz, Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee (DMSC): “Through testimonies and group activities, DMSC knows that the conditions at the Otero Processing Center interfere with people’s access to justice and break their spirit. This year, the Otero Processing Center was sending detained women to the County jail part of the facility. Ironically, women reported better conditions at the jail than at the immigration detention center. Attorneys struggle to have access to their clients; there are no contact visits, and attorneys have had to wait for up to three hours before being allowed to see their client. This report is just the tip of the iceberg. We hope that other organizations, public officials, and the community will join us in demanding an investigation and holding ICE accountable.”

Sally Pillay, First Friends of New Jersey and New York: “The OIG’s report clearly highlights the neglect and abuse that immigrants face on a constant  basis. Hudson County Jail and Rehabilitation Center (Hudson) is known for its substandard  medical care — This year alone there have been two deaths at the facility, one of which was Rolando Meza Espinoza who was in need of medical attention. The unacceptable and avoidable death of Espinoza is representative of the substandard medical care and oversight provided to individuals detained in Hudson.  It is not acceptable that taxpayers dollars are used to incarcerate our immigrant brothers and sisters, while these facilities are plagued by abuse, mistreatment and a lack of accountability. We are calling on Hudson County to adopt the most recent Performance Based National Detention Standards and to work with local advocates to form a truly Independent Medical Oversight Board that to monitor the facility.”  

Serges Demefack, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Immigrant Rights Program in New Jersey: “The AFSC Immigrant Rights Program in New Jersey commends the OIG for its report which points out to some of the conditions immigrant rights advocates in New Jersey have consistently asked for improvement. Recently the circumstances leading to two deaths in June and July 2017 at HCCF tell a story of the system designed to fail immigrants. A system where medical care is withheld and sick calls go unanswered for weeks at a time. Detainees at HCCF are consistently mistreated, and in many cases accused of faking their illness even though there are evidences backed by testimonies from other detainees demonstrating that they are chronically ill.  The financial incentive tied to the detention quota is one of the root causes of the broken immigration detention system in Hudson County and elsewhere. We need to hold the failing medical and mental health systems at HCCF accountable.  This includes the administrator and those elected officials who repeatedly support inefficient and often unjust jail management. We must begin eliminating a system that is completely lacking accountability.”

Dylan Corbett, Hope Border Institute: “While we welcome this step towards holding ICE accountable by the Office of the Inspector General, the abuses identified at the Otero Detention Center immigration are not an anomaly. We know that immigration agencies and officials in border communities routinely fail to respect basic human rights and human dignity. The detention of migrants and asylum seekers who pose no threat to our communities is fundamentally immoral and together we must work to end it.”


Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention. Visit Follow @DetentionWatch.

Project South is a Southern-based leadership development organization that creates spaces for movement building. We work with communities pushed forward by the struggle– to strengthen leadership and to provide popular political and economic education for personal and social transformation. We build relationships with organizations and networks across the US and global South to inform our local work and to engage in bottom-up movement building for social and economic justice.

Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee (DMSC) is a community group in El Paso, TX that opposes migrant detention. They fight for cross-border communities free from militarization, criminalization, and mass incarceration through organizing, education, and action. They aim to expose the injustices of migrant detention and deportation and to provide support for migrants in detention and their families. Follow @DMSCelpaso (Twitter) and @DetainedMigrantSolidarityCommitteeEPTX (Facebook).

Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) is a national nonprofit devoted to abolishing U.S. immigration detention, while ending the isolation of people currently suffering in this profit-driven system. We visit and monitor 43 facilities and run the largest national hotline for detained immigrants. Through these windows into the system, we gather data and stories to combat injustice at the individual level and push systemic change. Visit Follow @endisolation and join us at

Hope Border Institute (HOPE) is an independent grassroots community organization working in the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez-Las Cruces region, that seeks to bring the perspective of Catholic social teaching to bear on the social realities unique to our region. Through a robust program of research, reflection, leadership development, advocacy and action, HOPE develops and aligns the border’s community leaders engaged in the work of justice from across the Mexico-US border to deepen solidarity across borders and transform our region.  Visit us at or follow Hope on Twitter and Facebook, @hopeborder, or @hopeborderinstitute on Instagram.   



Statement in Response to Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office

“The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office has pledged to take seriously the allegations made by a group of women detained at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond.

But calling these reports “misleading” is the exact opposite of taking them seriously. What is happening at West County is not an anomaly. It is the status quo across immigration detention facilities in the U.S.

Instead of trying to discredit the women’s reports of harsh living conditions, the Sheriff’s Office should focus its energy on rectifying the issue immediately and launching a fully independent investigation.”

— Christina Mansfield, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director, CIVIC 

Lawyers File Litigation Hold to Preserve Sexual Assault Records of People in Immigration Detention

LOS ANGELES – Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) are putting the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on notice over ICE’s plan to destroy the records of immigrants in detention, including deaths in custody, solitary confinement and sexual assault.
In late August, ICE petitioned the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for permission to start routinely destroying 11 kinds of records on several proposed timelines.  CIVIC and CREEC sent ICE a litigation hold letter which, according to Tim Fox, an attorney and the Co-Executive Director of CREEC, “places ICE on notice that litigation may be commenced concerning the topics covered in the letter, and thus ICE has a duty to preserve related documents, and this is true even if NARA approves ICE’s petition.”
“These records are vital to anticipated litigation. They are essential to obtaining justice for those individuals who’ve needlessly suffered at the hands of government officials,” says Christina Fialho, an attorney and the Co-Founder/Executive Director of CIVIC.
Earlier this year, CIVIC filed a civil rights complaint after uncovering, through a Freedom of Information Act request, widespread sexual abuse, assault and harassment in U.S. immigration detention facilities. CIVIC uncovered that between January 2010 and July 2016, Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General received over 33,000 complaints of sexual assault or physical abuse against DHS’s component agencies.  But the Inspector General investigated less than 1 percent of these cases.
For example, Rosanna Santos was sexually harassed by a male guard at the York County Jail in Pennsylvania while she was in immigration detention.  She was one of the named complainants in CIVIC’s federal civil rights complaint earlier this year. Rosanna says, I spoke out about the sexual harassment so that something would be done for all those other women I knew who were being silenced. Destroying the evidence is not going to erase our traumatic memories or help bring those who are responsible for sexual violence to justice.
The federal government has shown no interest in a proper and full investigation. And now, it wants to destroy sexual abuse and assault records. That won’t happen on our watch.
“We won’t let ICE willfully destroy evidence of systematic wrongdoing,” said Fialho. “ICE is now on notice that if they try to destroy these records, they will be subject to legal consequences.”
CIVIC is a national nonprofit headquartered in San Francisco, California, with a mission to abolish the U.S. immigration detention system.  In addition to providing independent oversight of the U.S. immigration detention system, CIVIC also challenges immigration detention practices.  Learn more
CREEC is a non-profit located in Denver, Colorado, with a nationwide scope whose mission includes investigating and filing impact and class-action lawsuits on a broad array of civil rights issues. Learn more at

Trump’s Immigration Efforts Targeting Children Are Inhumane

The question we all need to be asking ourselves is, what does it say about our country when we lock up children in immigrant prisons? It is not only inhumane, but also runs counter to our values and ideals. 
There are already very few laws or regulations that protect people in immigration detention, and minors are a vulnerable population. A legal agreement the administration is targeting is known as the Flores Settlement, which is one of the only requirements that provides some regulation over child immigration detention.  
We will not allow one of the few legal protections child migrants have to be scrapped at the whim of one man.”
-Christina Fialho, Co-Executive Director and Co-Founder of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC)

OIG’s Report On DHS’s Immigration Enforcement & Administration

“The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General released a report detailing shortcomings in immigration enforcement and administration within DHS’s component agencies, including Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

In its report, OIG recommended that the agency develop a unified approach for strategy and oversight through the creation of a department-level group.

If DHS is committed to this approach, we believe one area where it could improve upon is by creating a uniform system for filing complaints against component agencies, for example, which would be beneficial to those directly impacted by the system, such as asylum seekers, legal permanent residents and others in their custody.

We also believe the department-level group should be independent of the DHS and should be a congressionally-appointed committee.”

-Christina Fialho, Co-Executive Director and Co-Founder of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC)

Trump Calls For End To Diversity Visa Lottery Program

Following the tragic attack in New York City, President Donald Trump announced that he wants to end the Diversity Visa Lottery Program saying, “We’re going to quickly as possible get rid of chain migration and move to a merit-based system.”

His response to the attack is not only misguided and based on fear, but it is also exploitative, seeking to further his administration’s attempts to curtail immigration. When the president uses phrases like “chain migration,” he essentially wants to make it more difficult for families to immigrate and stay together. Language matters.

We fear that ending the Diversity Visa Lottery Program may signal the beginning of other policies aimed to keep people apart.

-Christina Fialho, Co-Executive Director and Co-Founder, CIVIC

Report: Trump Plans Massive Expansion of Immigration Detention

We at CIVIC, Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement, strongly condemn the Trump administration’s plans to expand immigration detention. As reported by USA Today, ICE has put out requests to identify privately-run jail sites in Chicago, Detroit, St. Paul, Salt Lake City and southern Texas.

The move will only serve to embolden Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in targeting vulnerable communities and line the pockets of profit-driven companies like GEO Group and CCA, at the expense of the lives of thousands of individuals and their families. The proposed expansion is also a waste of taxpayer money.

We successfully fought to stop the expansion of for-profit immigrant prisons in California. Earlier this month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the” Dignity Not Detention” bill (also known as SB29) into law, following the tireless work of immigrant rights organizations and advocates, including CIVIC, and through the help of people in detention, who bravely shared their stories with us.

California’s measure is a step in the right direction toward ending our inhumane detention system and one that can serve as a model for other states in their fight to thwart the Trump administration’s unconscionable actions.

In fact, we worked with Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal from Washington to introduce a first-of-its-kind federal budget amendment to stop immigration detention expansion nationwide. We hope to work with more legislators like her to one day abolish the U.S. immigration detention system.

– Christina Fialho, Co-Executive Director and Co-Founder, CIVIC



The #SchoolsNotPrisons tour and community partners will call for the closure of cruel and unjust immigrant prisons, beginning with the for-profit prison in Adelanto which is the largest immigrant prison in California 

ADELANTO, CA (October 11, 2017) – Grammy-winning R&B artist Miguel will headline Friday’s free community Schools Not Prisons concert joined by Los Rakas, Ceci Bastida and Buyepongo to advocate for the closure of all immigrant prisons. The event will be emceed by comedienne Cristela Alonzo. The concert comes just two weeks after Governor Jerry Brown signed a new bill by Sen. Ricardo Lara, which will limit the growth of immigrant prisons and takes a strong stand against profiteering by private prison interests.   

The #SchoolsNotPrisons Adelanto concert will bring artists, advocates, and community members together for a historical event, creating a unique platform to advocate for the closure of immigrant prisons and shine a light on the many ways for-profit immigrant prisons harm California communities. Centered at the intersection of art and activism, #SchoolsNotPrisons Adelanto will spark meaningful dialogue around the practice of unjust immigrant incarceration and the cruel conditions of immigrant prisons – generally misrepresented as immigrant detention centers. 

“Nearly 40,000 immigrants are incarcerated each day in facilities across the United States, with over 70 percent of them held in prisons run by corporations profiting off their misery,” said Christina Fialho, Co-Executive Director of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), a national nonprofit that visits and monitors immigrant prisons. “It’s time we close these unnecessary and abusive prisons, and instead use community-based alternatives to ensure immigrants are afforded due process in court.”

The upcoming #SchoolsNotPrisons tour stop is presented by CIVIC, the Inland Empire-Immigrant Youth Collective, the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ICIJ), and produced by Revolve Impact, which has organized the statewide tour since the summer of 2016. The tour promotes a vision of community safety focused on prevention rather than incarceration, and supports local advocacy campaigns that call for more effective, community-based alternatives rather than severe forms of punishment, particularly for vulnerable populations.

“Having grown up on the Mexican side of the border, I’ve always been aware of how much people risk to get to the other side,” said popular Latin singer-songwriter Ceci Bastida, “I’m honored to play for people who are so brave, who have left their home and everything they know to pursue a different life here. We are excited to share our music with the community of Adelanto, stand up for the rights of everyone who is incarcerated at the GEO immigrant prison, and shine a light on this abusive system.”

About 1,600 people are incarcerated in Adelanto’s immigrant prison, which is owned and run by the for-profit prison company GEO Group.

“Conditions inside the immigrant prison in Adelanto are inhumane and abusive, and incarcerated immigrants have launched multiple hunger strikes to protest unclean water and food, denial of medical care, and excessive bail requirements” said Javier Hernandez of ICIJ. “Meanwhile, the CEO of The GEO Group, earns a salary of five million dollars a year, yet GEO pays incarcerated immigrants just a dollar a day to work inside as janitors or cooks.”

The #SchoolsNotPrisons tour stop in Adelanto will take place at the Adelanto Stadium, with gates opening at 5:30pm and the concert starting at 6pm. Guest speakers will include those who’ve been incarcerated inside the Adelanto immigrant prison.

Admission to the concert is free, but people are encouraged to register in advance through this Eventbrite link because the event is expected to reach capacity. The concert is an all-ages peaceful community event, and will be a tobacco-free, alcohol and drug-free zone. 

The #SchoolsNotPrisons is funded by The California Endowment and The California Wellness Foundation. The tour stop is presented by Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), the Inland Empire-Immigrant Youth Collective, and the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ICIJ), and produced by Revolve Impact. The tour is in partnership with more than 50 organizations from across California, including: A New Way of Life, ACLU-CA, Advancement Project, American Friends Services Committee, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus (ICE out of CA), Black Alliance for Just Immigration, BLU Educational Foundation, Brave New Films, Centro Del Inmigrante, Children’s Defense Fund-California, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ), Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE), CultureStrike, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Fathers and Families of San Joaquin Valley, Homie UP, Inland Congregations United for Change, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, MILPA, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote, Movement Generation, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), Nile Sisters Development Initiative (NSDI), Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA), PICO CA, Pomona Economic Opportunity Center,, Project Kinship, Resilience Orange County, San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, Sanctuary Task Force of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, Sankofa, Self Help Graphics & Art, Sol Collective, The Place4Grace, Training Occupational Development Education Communities (TODEC) Legal Center, Trans Latin@ Coalition, UFCS Local 770, UnidosUS, Warehouse Workers Resource Center (WWRC), Young Women’s Freedom Center, Youth Action Project, Youth Justice Coalition, and Youth Law Center.



CIVIC is a national nonprofit devoted to abolishing U.S. immigration prison, while ending the isolation of people currently suffering in this profit-driven system. We visit and monitor 43 facilities and run the largest national hotline for detained immigrants. Through these windows into the system, we gather data and stories to combat injustice at the individual level and push systemic change. CIVIC has been visiting and monitoring the Adelanto Detention Facility since 2012. For more information, visit and

About The California Endowment

The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality healthcare for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. The Endowment challenges the conventional wisdom that medical settings and individual choices are solely responsible for people’s health. The Endowment believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools, and with prevention. Headquartered in downtown Los Angeles, The Endowment has regional offices in Sacramento, Oakland, Fresno, and San Diego, with program staff working throughout the state. For more information, visit

About The California Wellness Foundation

The California Wellness Foundation is celebrating 25 years as a private, independent foundation with a mission to advance wellness for all Californians by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention. Since its founding in 1992, Cal Wellness has awarded more than $987 million in charitable contributions, which include matching gifts and 8750 grants. For more information, visit

About Revolve Impact

Revolve Impact is an award-winning social action media and creative company that utilizes radical imagination, art and culture to transform global power, politics and people. Founded in 2014, Revolve Impact provides marketing, campaign management, event production, as well as policy advisement and strategic media expertise to a wide range of influential artists, nonprofit and government entities, corporate communities, and philanthropic foundations. For more information, visit

California Signs Into Law Dignity Not Detention Act to Bring Needed Accountability to Private Immigration Prisons

Today, Governor Brown signed SB 29, the Dignity Not Detention Act, into law, effectively freezing the growth of private, for-profit immigration detention facilities in the state of California. The bill also prohibits cities or counties from entering into new, or modifying existing, contracts with private prison companies for the purposes of expanding immigration detention, and gives California community members the chance to weigh in on the construction of any new facilities in their neighborhoods.

Nearly 4,000 immigrants are detained in facilities across California on any given day, with over 70 percent of them housed in for-profit facilities. SB 29 was authored by Senator Ricardo Lara (D–Bell Gardens) and co-sponsored by Assembly Member Gipson, Assembly Member Gonzalez Fletcher, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) and Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC).  

“An economy based upon the confinement of people for profit is immoral, and now in the state of California, its expansion is illegal. Governor Brown, Senator Ricardo Lara, the California Legislature, and human rights advocates across the state have come together to pass one of the most important pieces of pro-immigrant legislation in recent history. There is much more work to be done, but this bill is a step forward in the fight to end our costly, inhumane, and unaccountable detention system,” said Christina Fialho, an attorney and the co-founder/executive director of CIVIC.

“When we detain individuals in facilities that seek profit, with no legal or moral standard of care, we are putting people in danger and encouraging inhumane behavior,” said Grisel Ruiz, staff attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. “With the Dignity Not Detention Act, we will check the growth of private immigration detention where prison corporations quite literally profit from human suffering, as we continue our work to end the unnecessary practice of jailing immigrants altogether.”

Reports of human rights abuses within these facilities are rampant, from physical and sexual abuse and overuse of solitary confinement to medical neglect and preventable deaths. Immigrants involved in the campaign to end private, for-profit detention facilities spoke out against the conditions of detention in California by saying they were unjustly “operating outside of the law,” with experiences of being “abused and tortured,” and feeling that their “religious freedoms were often violated,” and “helpless.”

“This legislation, coupled with AB 103 a new law passed in June, which checks the expansion of public facilities and directs our Attorney General to provide state oversight of all facilities, tells the federal government loud and clear that California will not be a future partner in the expansion of this broken and abuse immigration detention system,”continued Ruiz. “We thank Governor Brown, Senator Lara, and Attorney General Xavier Becerra for listening to immigrants, residents, local law enforcement, attorneys and advocates such as California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance (CIYJA), Immigrant Youth Coalition (IYC), and Human Rights Watch, and for their leadership on this issue.”

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center and CIVIC will work in partnership with formerly and currently detained immigrants and the state’s leadership to ensure full implementation of this bill. The ILRC and CIVIC will continue to fight for additional reforms to immigration detention, including the codification of standards of care across all detention facilities, the creation of extra protections for LGBTQ-identified immigrants in detention, increased visitation access to legal counsel and family members, the increased adoption of community-based alternatives to detention, and ultimately an end to all immigration detention.

For interviews with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, a key co-sponsor and supporter of the bill, please contact Jareyah Bradley at or908.242.4822.

For interviews with CIVIC, please contact Christina Fialho or 510-612-3570.


The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is a national nonprofit that works with immigrants, community organizations, legal professionals, and policymakers to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people. Through community education programs, legal training & technical assistance, and policy development & advocacy, the ILRC’s mission is to protect and defend the fundamental rights of immigrant families and communities.

Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) is a California-based national nonprofit devoted to abolishing U.S. immigration detention, while ending the isolation of people currently suffering in this profit-driven system. We visit and monitor 43 facilities and run the largest national hotline for detained immigrants. Through these windows into the system, we gather data and stories to combat injustice at the individual level and push wide-scale systemic change.